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Chapter 20: The Pledge for Life
The Pledge for Life
Wonderful new banner by killer queen @ tda
In the months that led up to Helga and Adrian’s wedding, Rowena had Godric by her side. Adrian had broken the news triumphantly to his friends and Salazar, Rachel and Godric were all instantly resolved to stay by his side until he was a married man. It had made Rowena so happy to be with them; it was more people for her to talk to.
Every morning she would go to the library for her morning discussion with Salazar. They would talk about things she could talk about with no one else; they would discuss magic and highly complicated spells that had never interested Godric and Helga. They would also make plans for the school; what they would teach, what equipment they would need and which members of the court had agreed to help them with the project.
During the day she would spend time with Helga, who had introduced her to Rachel. The three women would first tackle the running of Alba. While Rowena made important diplomatic decisions, Helga and Rachel acted as secretaries and also advisors on the best course of policy. Then, the three women would go for a walk in the grounds after lunch and talk about what was troubling them.
Rachel had confessed her love for Cadmus, and Rowena thought it was brilliant. There was a great divide between Rowena and Cadmus now, but she thought that Cadmus being married to such a charming young woman would be brilliant for him. Rachel would also bring him a great deal of money, and he would be able to move him and his brother’s into a house in Alba.
In the afternoon, Helga and Rachel would leave her, and this was the time that Rowena spent with Helena and Bevan, instructing the little five year olds on their schooling and playing with them in the castle grounds. Sometimes Godric joined them, and Rowena entertained herself with thoughts of them being a proper family, and her being Godric’s wife.
In the evening, she would retire to her quarters after dinner and organise what had to be done the following day in relation to the wedding. Rowena had promoted herself as the head organiser, and Helga and Adrian had been quite relieved to have the pressure off their shoulders. It was Rowena who had ordered Helga’s expensive silk wedding dress and Adrian’s new dress robes. She had also booked the little chapel in Alba as the place for the wedding. Rowena had to admit she quite enjoyed it.
Sitting at the head of the table at dinner, she gazed across the myriad of people in front of her. She could see Helga and Adrian huddled together in the corner, kissing like guilty children. That was the way she had kissed Godric once, thought Rowena regretfully. She saw Rachel and Salazar nearby having a deep conversation. Rachel had been let in on the school idea and was most enchanted by it, and they were obviously in deep conversation about it.
Then Godric walked in, and Rowena saw no one else. He saw her and smiled, walking up towards her until he was at the grand table. It was general knowledge that it was either he or Salazar that took the place beside the Princess Regent. Many thought it was slightly inappropriate; although Godric had noble blood and was Rowena’s brother-in-law, he was illegitimate in the eyes of the law. Salazar may have risen to being almost an advisor of Rowena’s, but he was still a commoner. It was even rumoured that his parents had been Muggles.
“Good morning Godric,” said Rowena sweetly as he sat down beside her. Automatically, she poured him a glass of pumpkin juice. “I hope you slept well,” she said, gazing at him adoringly. Before he answered she could tell that he didn’t. He looked pale and drawn and there were large bags under his attractive green eyes. It was most unlike him.
“No,” he said ruefully, “I did not sleep well.” Before Rowena could ask why, Godric began to talk to her, and it was the first honest conversation they had had since the one in the library months ago. It was not about the weather, or the castle, or court gossip which they usually used to avoid the real issues at hand.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said slowly, not quite meeting Rowena’s eye, “I’ve been living here the past ten months in preparation for Adrian and Helga’s wedding. He is like a brother to me and I could not leave without seeing him a married man.” Rowena felt her heart begin to quicken, she could tell where this was going.
“Months and months the preparations have dragged on, prepared by you who claim you want everything perfect. While I agree that that is desirable, I cannot help but think you are dragging out the process to keep me here.” So he finally understood, and she knew she couldn’t continue with what she was doing. She had hoped that in nine months he would have fallen in love with her again, but it hadn’t worked.
“The wedding is on Friday,” said Rowena sadly, “that’s two days from now; I’ve been trying as hard as I can. It’s true I want you to stay, you’ve been invited onto the school project but you continually turn me down!” Godric shook his head at Rowena and drinking his pumpkin juice down in one he got up.
“I think I need to talk to the others,” he said harshly, almost storming away from her. Rowena watched him go and sighed. She was the Princess Regent of Alba and yet she sat here and did not even have the power or authority to make him sit beside her and eat breakfast. What did she have to do to make Godric love her again?
“You are always so good at this game!” shrieked Rachel noisily as Salazar conned her out of her money again. She flung her cards down in mock anger, glaring at Salazar intensely, “I don’t know why I play with you! I should play with Godric; I think he’s even worse than me.” It was true that Godric was good at most things, but he did not seem to be good at taking the right risks at the right time in a game of cards.
Salazar let out a laugh as he scooped up the money he had won from the cards. Salazar was the opposite of Godric, he had the strategic mind needed for the game and always knew what risks would pay off and what one definitely wouldn’t. He said cheerily, “I can spend this on some people to deliver my library to Black Castle. The one here needs some new additions.” Rachel nodded in agreement.
“The school will need more books for those advanced students. It will be such an aid,” she paused for a moment before saying, “it’s so exciting what you, Helga and the Princess Rowena are organising. It’s just going to be so brilliant to be involved! I can get all my belongings delivered here too; Rowena has offered me some permanent living quarters too so I can stay here with you. It’s just so exciting!”
Salazar, however, did not look so enthused, and this confused Rachel. He was one of the main driving forces behind the project; could he really not be excited about the future? “I am worried though,” he said, concern etched on his face, “I mean it seems that we will gain so much but lose something just as important at the same time.”
“What do you mean?” asked Rachel perplexed, letting her newly collected cards fall from her hands. For her she could only see a bright future. She would live here in a bustling community of magic, something she had never experienced before. Rachel’s friendship with Rowena and Helga was growing stronger every day, and she would have Adrian and Salazar by her side. They had promised her she could be a teacher, and that excited her more than anything. What was there to lose?
“It’s Godric,” said Salazar sadly, “Rowena has tried to persuade him many times to stay, but he refuses. Rowena will not tell me why, but she says he feels he would be sacrificing his freedom by doing this. I don’t think there’s anything in the world that could make him stay if Rowena can’t.” Suddenly, Rachel saw the sparkle in Salazar’s eyes that she had when looking at Cadmus. He was head over heels in love with the dazzling Princess.
“Godric has always been wild and impulsive, without focus or direction,” she began diplomatically, trying to convey her meaning to her friend, “but to me it seems he trusts one person’s judgement above all, and it seems to me that he will be able to persuade him.” Salazar looked utterly perplexed as he raised one sculpted eyebrow, “who?”
Rachel let out a chuckle. That was the problem with men. They were blind to the workings of other people’s hearts. “Why,” began Rachel, a grin on her face, “you of course Salazar. You have been there to guide and direct him the whole time I knew him. He trusts you like a brother and would give his life for any plan of yours. While Rowena has beauty and charm that you cannot match,” she said watching Salazar give a look of indignation, “he trusts you with his life as you are the one who gives him the plans and direction to abide by, so if anyone can persuade him, it’s you.”
It was at that moment that the door to Salazar’s chamber burst open, revealing none other than Godric himself. He looked tired as he strode into the room, but he seemed to have a sense of purpose about him as he pulled up a chair next to Salazar, and began to talk, not even greeting his two friends.
“In two days time,” he began dramatically, “it is Adrian and Helga’s wedding. I am sure it will be a wonderful event and I will not be able to pull Adrian away from his beautiful new wife for anything.” His eyes flashed between his two friends as he said, “but after the wedding I can stay here no longer, and I was wondering whether either of you would be returning to our life on the road with me.”
Rachel suddenly felt an intense pang of guilt in her stomach, and she looked at Salazar for consolation. She did not want to leave. Going back would be returning to a life of uncertainty and only living for living’s sake. Her future here would mean she had a divine purpose. She tried to catch Salazar’s eye however, he was staring back at Godric determinedly, and as their green eyes met, Rachel knew that Salazar was the last hope in getting Godric to stay.
“Rachel and I,” said Salazar, briefly looking at nervous Rachel, “will not be going back on the road with you,” he said, like a true statesman, “because that chapter of our lives is over.” Godric crimsoned instantly, Rachel knew he hated being rebuffed, especially by Salazar, who he thought sometimes treated him as a child.
“You would not believe that if we had never come here,” spat Godric angrily, “if we never came here we would still be out on the road, fighting dangerous creatures and having adventures. How can you say you did not love that life? It was what brought us together, whereas this place is tearing us apart!”
Godric was now on his feet, clearly angry. He was staring at Salazar with all the venom in the world, and it looked as if he wanted to rip him to shreds. However, Salazar countered this by standing up to face Godric. He was not as tall as Godric, and was not as burly or intimidating, but he had a stare that could make the most fearsome warrior quiver.
“This place is not tearing us apart,” began Salazar, not taking his eyes off Godric, “I have made friends here. I have learnt new things, had new experiences. It is you that is tearing us apart, and your unfathomable hate for this place.” Rachel had to admit, Salazar was very talented at talking his way out of tough situations.
“I do no such thing!” said Godric angrily, clearly flustered. Rachel saw the sheepish expression covering Godric’s face as Salazar continued, “you snub court society, you barely talk to Helga or Rowena and you act as if Rachel, Adrian and I are betraying you. You just don’t see Godric,” he said grandly, “how happy you could be here!”
“Happy?” thundered Godric, “This place offers no happiness! You are forced to stay here, in the web of lies and intrigues. Secrets must be kept and not a word can be spoken about it! How can you say I could ever be happy here when life on the road was so much more exciting?” Godric finished with a look of triumph, but Salazar countered him almost instantly.
“You could be happy here, with your friends and with people who could become your friends. You could build a school and teach students how to fight like we have had to. You can learn new things, meet new people and become someone that everyone you detest in this court would respect and admire. Here you can fight for a higher cause and become a hero in the whole Wizarding world, something you could never do as a local vigilante. So that is why you should stay.”
Rachel knew that Salazar was playing with Godric’s heroic nature, and she suspected it was working, but she needed to say something that would truly consolidate it. “Godric,” she said simply, standing up and moving towards him, “there are some people in this world not us lucky as us. They did not have the chance to meet such wonderful friends and share their magic. By staying here, you will be doing for other people what you have done for me, Salazar and Adrian and what we have done for you. You will be giving them a home and a family.”
Godric stopped, and he seemed to calm for a moment, almost smiling at his two friends, “but I would never be free.” Now Rachel saw a glimmer of the truth, there was something here that lingered from Godric’s passed and he was terrified of it. He was terrified of it returning to ruin everything. Rachel gave him a reassuring smile, something she knew that Salazar would never be able to pull off effectively.
“You could leave,” she said gently, “if you hated it that much Godric you could leave but I’m sure you’ll love it so much you’ll never want to go.” His handsome face broke into a smile, and she knew that they had won. Godric would not be leaving, and he consolidated this by pulling them both into a friendly embrace.
“You are my best friends in all the world,” he said, holding on tightly. Rachel stretched her arms round Salazar and Godric and thought to herself that after overcoming this most difficult obstacle, nothing would ever be able to break them apart.
Cadmus sat at the table in absolute silence. He sometimes felt he never had anything to say anymore. Every day he felt so sad and regretful. He watched Rowena when she came to the grounds with her children, and saw how she smiled at Godric when he came too. It was too painful to bear.
Ignotus had told him to grow up. His brief summer romance with Rowena had been as fleeting as it was passionate, and she obviously saw it as nothing more than a rebellion against her mother. And anyway, why would the married Princess of Alba ever return to her stable boy? The argument had happened the day he had hidden from Rachel, and things had been awkward with Ignotus since.
Then there was Rachel to contend with. Cadmus admitted she was pretty, and she was pleasant conversation, and he knew in his heart of hearts that he had some affection for her. But at the same time, he felt like he was betraying Rowena. His head told him it was ridiculous, Rowena was married and had been having an affair with her future brother-in-law, but at the same time he could not get rid of this feeling of loyalty.
The cabbage soup was tasteless, and he wondered what Rowena was eating up at the castle. She would be sitting up there with Rachel, Helga, her new friend Salazar and worst of all Godric. He imagined her laughing at their jokes and her pretty smile. How could she laugh when she had abandoned her only childhood friend, the boy who had kept her company when she was the loneliest girl in the world?
“Do you like the soup?” asked Ignotus, attempting to make conversation. Cadmus had always felt henpecked by his younger brother. Ignotus had taken it upon himself after their mother died to act as their new mother. Antioch had taken to it fairly well, and had let Ignotus cook and clean. Antioch made the most money, as he now worked in Alba, spent his money in the tavern and came home. Cadmus on the other hand had the same job as he had had when he was a child, cleaning the stables.
“It’s disgusting,” spat Cadmus viscously. He longed for nothing more than to be up at the castle but instead he was stuck with his brother, talking about cabbage soup. His life bored him and he longed for something more, something he never vocalised to his brother’s. After this failed attempt at conversation, Ignotus tried again, seeing if Cadmus would be rallied.
“I haven’t seen Rachel today,” he said, stirring his spoon in the green liquid, “have you?” Cadmus let out a dramatic sigh. It seemed that as well as cooking and cleaning like their mother had, Ignotus had also taken it upon himself to get his two brother’s married off, and he had come to the conclusion that Rachel was perfect for Cadmus.
“No, and I’m not planning on seeing her,” he snapped gloomily. He was fed up with Ignotus and his stupid chatter. Standing up, Cadmus marched over and poured himself a tankard of mead. He didn’t want to think about Rachel, or Rowena or anything else for that matter. Cadmus just wanted to sleep.
“You should see her,” said Ignotus commandingly, “she’s a sweet girl, and would be good for you. I’ve heard rumours that she’s in love with you.” Cadmus flushed nervously at this. He didn’t like talking about love, especially with his nosy brother. Sitting back down, he gave Cadmus an angry stare.
“She thinks she loves me,” he drawled, “when in reality she doesn’t. She belongs in Rowena’s world, and that is far away from me and my job.” Cadmus thought he had made a valid point but Ignotus clearly didn’t think so. He rolled his eyes the way their mother had when she thought one of her sons was talking nonsense.
“From what I hear she’s a lowborn girl who just got lucky and made some money. And anyway, she doesn’t care about money or status the way your precious Rowena does.” Cadmus snapped as he slammed his tankard onto the table, giving Ignotus a ferocious look. The last time Rowena had been mentioned by Antioch, Cadmus had punched him. Was Ignotus trying to cause trouble?
“Don’t talk about her like that!” cried Cadmus in anguish, “she does not care about money or status. She is my friend!” Ignotus let out a small chuckle before answering, “a friend that will never see you?” Cadmus wanted nothing more than to sink his fist into Ignotus’ gloating face, but at that moment there was a knock at the cottage door.
Ignotus leapt up and sprang towards the door. Cadmus watched as he went, and when the door opened he instantly recognised the person who stood on the threshold. Antioch hardly ever came home during the week, and Cadmus was overjoyed to see him. Although he could be a callous brute, Antioch did not scold and chide him the way Ignotus did, and Cadmus could not help but smile.
“Antioch!” smiled Ignotus, embracing his brother happily, “we were not expecting you until Sunday at least!” Ignotus pulled open the door and Antioch stepped inside, throwing off his cheap cloak as he came. Cadmus watched as his older brother sat down and pointed a finger at the bowl of soup in front of Cadmus.
“You eating that?” he grunted. Cadmus reacted instantly, pushing the bowl towards his older brother, vaguely hoping that Antioch would have some news that would take his mind of his melancholy. Ignotus took his seat next to his brother and turned into the little boy he had once been, eager to hear the stories of adventure and intrigue.
“What have you been doing?” said Ignotus quickly, babbling like an incoherent child, “you spend so much time in town. We want to know. How have you been?” Ignotus’ talk was giving Cadmus a headache and he massaged his temples slowly, waiting for Antioch’s answer. Ignotus however, continued talking, “why have you come home?”
“I want to show you something,” said Antioch mysteriously, he paused his devouring of the soup to stand up and walk over to his discarded cloak. “Master Johnson had us make many magical items, cauldrons, spell hats and cloaks. But I recently changed jobs and have begun to work for a curious man named Master Ollivander.”
Cadmus remembered the name from somewhere. He suddenly remembered an Ollivander working for King Bevan when he had been a strong warrior. He had made wands for Bevan’s army, and the King had held him in high esteem for they were the best wands that money could buy. “I remember him,” Cadmus said, “he used to live up in the castle.”
“His family has been in the wand making business for a long time, and he hired me, thinking I would be good for business. He left me in his workshop sometimes. It was there I decided to conduct a little experiment.” Cadmus looked at his brother intensely, it was not like Antioch to be inquisitive, or work at a wand shop, but Cadmus kept listening.
“Ollivander told me that the wood of an elder tree should never be used to make a wand. It would be too powerful, too strong. He said it could beat any other wand out there, and should never be created as it would upset the balance.” Cadmus did not understand what Antioch was saying, but watched as he pulled a long wand from a pocket that he had tacked inside the cloak.
“There are many things you can put inside a wand,” he began slowly, “anything with magic. Ollivander is an old fool, and uses things he deems safe; dragon heartstrings, unicorn hair and phoenix feathers. He doesn’t understand what could be achieved if you use other things.” He walked back to his seat majestically, and placed the wand on the table.
“One day several months ago, I went walking in the forest. I find peace there; it is where mother is buried after all, and Sir Bedivere. I went to their graves, laying a flower for them, two for Odila and Aliena. It seemed too cruel as I thought about them. It was then that I saw it. It was like a skeletal horse with great big wings. It looked dead. I ran at the time, being a silly and stupid boy. When I returned to Ollivander’s I thought about it more, and decided to find out what it was.”
“What was it?” asked Ignotus, his misty grey eyes firmly on his older brother. Cadmus even had to admit he was intrigued. Antioch seemed spellbound by his own story. He had always desired a life like those who lived at the castle, and Cadmus thought that maybe this wand would bring him one step closer to achieving his dream.
“It was a thestral. They are creatures that can only be seen by people who have known death. After I researched them, I asked Ollivander about them. He had never seen one; the old fool has never experienced death like we have. Then I realised, that a tail hair from one of these creatures mixed with elder wood may create one of the most powerful wands in the world.”
Both Ignotus and Cadmus looked down at the wand. It looked like any wand apart from the strange carvings that adorned them. “The pattern came when I attempted to infuse the hair with the wood. I had nightmares during the day. It was delirium. I saw mother, Odila and Aliena. They were pale, like skeletons, reaching for me. When I woke up the wand had been created. I did it in my waking sleep.”
Ignotus had begun stammering with pride, “so it’s the most powerful wand in the world.” Cadmus gazed at the wand. Maybe with the most powerful wand in the world he could win Rowena’s love. Ignotus was staring at it too, but only with awe for his older brother. His heart was pure, he did not think about what he could gain. As Cadmus gazed at it, all he could think about was Rowena.
Rowena rode beside Helga as the bells of the little chapel rang loudly. The streets were lined with smiling faces. The wedding was the biggest news in the land. The people loved Helga for her devoted service to their princess these long years and were overjoyed to see her happy. Helga wore the finest silk dress money could buy, Rowena’s gift for her dedicated friendship. Her blonde curls hung lose on her shoulders, and she shone like the sun, her cheeks flushed with happiness.
Rachel rode on the other side. She wore the same royal blue as Rowena and wore a dark black cloak. The broach at her knew bore the eagle of the Black Family, and Rachel too wore the smile of happiness. Rachel was to act as bridesmaid, and she was proud of the honour. The three women were cheered as they rode along the set path to the chapel, the men already inside.
They dismounted at the doors of the chapel, at which point Rowena checked her friend’s veil was straight. Rowena gazed at Helga through the netting of the veil and gave her an encouraging smile, “ah, I am just so happy that I lose you to such a wonderful man.” Tears were welling in Helga’s eyes as she wrapped her arms round Rowena.
“It feels like the end,” she said sadly, “of all the good years we spent together.” When they parted Rowena felt a pang of sadness. After today they would be two married women, very different from the two little girls who had fought wolves together in the forest so many years ago. She suddenly felt so old; she was now an adult and had responsibilities, ones which she had shunned so long ago.
“It’s not the end,” smiled Rowena happily, “it’s a new beginning.” With that, Rachel picked up Helga’s train as Rowena took Helga’s arm. It had been agreed that it would be Rowena who gave Helga away as she was her closest friend. Rowena pushed the doors open, and the three women entered, a hundred eyes turning to greet them.
Rowena floated up the aisle with Helga at her side. At the top, by the altar, stood Adrian who looked as happy as it was humanly possible to be. Godric and Salazar stood at his side, both acting as best man. Suddenly Rowena thought of her own wedding to Harald and what a sad occasion that had been. She hadn’t seen her husband for years who kept himself cooped up in Svalbard. Happily, this marriage would turn out very different.
When they reached half way up the aisle, Rowena caught Godric’s eye. He looked regretful and she knew why. He was imagining the same thing she was, that it was Rowena gliding up the aisle in the wedding dress ready to declare undying love to him in front of a crowd. Only in her most blissful daydreams had Rowena dared to think of such a union, but soon she stood with Helga at the altar and was giving her friend away to Adrian. The tears came to her eyes quite easily.
Rowena stood beside Salazar who smiled as she took her place. It wasn’t long before she was crying like a child, and Salazar put one long thin arm around her. She leant on his shoulder, glad of the comfort as she watched as Helga and Adrian promise to cherish and love each other forever. Although she was so happy for them, she wished that she could freely love as they did.
Then they were husband and wife.
They kissed each other hungrily, and Rowena remembered the feeling of passion so easily. Her face grew hot as she thought of it, and she tried not to look at Godric, who was clearly avoiding her too. Adrian and Helga held hands as they walked down the aisle and soon Godric, Salazar and Rowena followed. When Rowena exited the little chapel she knew she had walked into a new world.
Okay!!! I know a lot of people said they loved Helga and Adrian, so here it is! Please read and review; I would love to know what you think. It will help me make the next chapter even better!!! Next Time...The situation with Guillaume finally come to a head and Helga and Adrian realise there is one more thing they have to do before they start the school...