A/N- owns nothing. Woot!
"This is idiotic," I muttered to myself, unsticking my boot from the three-foot-deep chasm that I had unwittingly discovered in the road, which per my usual amount of luck had been brimming with mud and worms and Jesus Christ on high knows what else. "This road is idiotic, this whole tournament is idiotic, you, my dear William, are idiotic-"
"Is there anything else you can think of that's idiotic, or are we nearly through?" William asked mildly, steering his horse around the offending ocean.
Damn. Typical, though. Whenever you need a knight around (you're being thrown out of the local tavern twenty florins poorer and stark naked, for instance…) he's nowhere on God's green earth, and yet the second you criticize him, he's standing right behind you with that cursed self-satisfied smirk worming its way across his countenance.
"Ah, my lord, but I'd hardly gotten started," I said pleasantly, trudging alongside his horse. "This mud is idiotic, this country's idiotic, the air, grass, city, and horse you ride on are idiotic, Wat is idiotic, Roland is idiotic, and everything under the sun and their esteemed mothers are idiotic. Sorry. That's all I can think of at the moment, for ordinarily I'd do better than that."
"I've no doubt…" he mused. "Well, we're nearly there."
"Nearly…" I muttered dispiritedly. "I despise that word with a passion. It's simply…"
"Idiotic," William and I said together.
I sighed. "Point taken. Go sally forth on your high horse of nobility, then. I shall plod along behind you, the indispensable yet unrecognized servant, left alone to my thoughts of the future, each darker and drearier and more bereft of hope than the next, while you poke large tin cans of men in the chest with sticks and muck about in sin with every visually pleasing princess you can come across on your travels. Enjoy," I concluded morosely. (A wonderful word, to be sure, morose. But I distract myself.)
I intended this pretty little speech to cleave William's very self-centered heart in two. He was to, with one sweep of his eyes, take in my bedraggled, filthy, wretched, yet profoundly loyal state, and apologize with all his soul. Perhaps he would, in the true tradition of chivalry, dismount from his horse in one sweeping motion and insist that I ride myself, as a recognition of my indefatigable servitude. A raise in pay may be in order, and the second we arrived at a tavern, the bed, for once, could be mine.
Alas, the thorn in the side of the dreamer is to constantly be underwhelmed.
He simply sallied forth on his high horse of nobility.
I trudged forward through the rutted road, muttering choice profanities to myself and the lone chipmunk that seemed to be sharing my chosen path through the deepest forest of despair. Actually, the chipmunk may not have been particularly despondent at the moment, as I did not see fit to ask, but he did have a certain drag to his step that I tend to attribute to one who is trudging forward through the deepest forest of despair. Again, though, I distract myself from the situation at hand. That being, in this situation, that we had a journey of multiple miles ahead of us until we were due to arrive at the tournament grounds at Saint-Michele, it was already well past midday, and my legs were screaming protestations at my brain with the fervor of a crowd at an execution riled into madness. "You fool!", they seemed to be shrieking at me, "why do you torment yourself so? Leave whilst you still have the chance and seek your fortune elsewhere! Preferably in a way that does not involve quests on foot across the length and breadth of France, if at all possible."
Wise words, legs, but I couldn't do that. Not only would that be leaving the faux-noble that had saved my genuinely noble arse on a regular basis in the dreadful position of being forced to hire a French herald to do the job for him, but I was developing a cult following of sorts in this current professional excursion. There are many things I will do to benefit myself. Denying a clamoring audience their corporeal muse is not one of them.
The day, as days spent in travel are likely to do, dragged on as slowly as physically possible. The sun climbed lethargically in its arced path, pausing for long expanses of time in a stationary position to glance down on my tired, bedraggled self and laugh nastily at me. Every step seemed to cost me more and more effort and carry me less and less distance, and though my awkward, lanky height had caused me little but problems finding breeches and sizeable doorways in the fief of my birth, I now found myself wishing that I had ten-foot legs, for doubtless I would have arrived wherever William had in mind hours ago under those convenient circumstances. Again, in the lifestyle of the trudger, convenience has never featured prominently on God's list of priorities when designing my fate. Yet the world turns.
Wearisome as my journey was, it must be all the more wearisome to be experienced in the retelling, so suffice it to say that some hours later, when the sun had settled in for its evening repose behind the gentle blanket of the horizon, our foursome stumbled blearily into the muck-laden streets of the tiny roadside speck of nowhere that is the lovely French locale of Montreuil-Sur-Mer. My energy-deprived mind found it ironic to note that not only was it not on la mer, it was about as far from being a costal city as was possible to be without being quadrupally landlocked. Montreuil-Absolutely-Nowhere-Near-La-Mer might have been a more apt name, but as is generally the funeral of cartographers, they saw no need to ask me my expert opinion. But for hopefully the final time, I wander off on tangents with my mind that have less than nothing to do with… well, honestly, anything. Relevantly, the four of us approached the nearest inn, a dismal excuse for lodging that I would not recommend to my absolute worst enemy, left our single horse with the hostler in the stable, and presently drained our funds almost completely in order to secure three rooms for the night.
With a party of four and limited monetary means, one would do well to wonder what exactly we expected to do with three rooms. The answer to this is honestly quite simple. William, being our liege, constantly was paranoid of it coming to light that he was not the noblest person ever to walk the face of Europe; therefore, it was a security measure that he would have his own room, lest anyone should walk in and discover him lodging otherwise. Economically speaking, this should have left his entourage, that is to say Wat, Roland, and myself, in the second room, but after very limited trial and error we discovered that this was not a wise arrangement, assuming I did not want Wat to fong me to death while I slept (the only time he could come close to actually catching me, mind). Being somewhat attached to life, I was thus given a room of my own such nights to do what I wished with.
I am a man of simple tastes. I do not wish to do extravagant, outlandish, outwardly exciting things. It takes little to please me, and this night when we stopped I suddenly found that I had absolutely everything I ever desired right within my grasp. A bed that was not halfway occupied by a revenge-driven Wat. A reasonably inspiring view of the depressing thoroughfares of Montreuil-Sur-Mer. A writing desk, provided as if they knew. And the one person I had not ever truly given up hope of seeing tonight, stretched alluringly out over said bed as I scribbled at said desk, the world progressing out of said window without any knowledge of the beautiful woman that was making my private lodgings heavenly.
"Quite honestly, Philippa, love, I still don't quite understand how you got here before we did," I confessed, my pen flying across the page in almost illegible haste before I forgot the conclusion to the stanza I had started.
"Geoff, it's not difficult. You forget my father has a fleet of horses that can move a sight faster than your lanky arse can pull off," my darling, my Aphrodite, the love of my life, the only woman I know that can keep a secret this big, my Philippa de Roet, laughed ruefully, shaking her head at my apparent ignorance.
"And it would have absolutely killed you to lend me one," I sighed, stretching ostentatiously and recalling the inhumane number of miles my profoundly sore legs had covered in one day.
"Well, I thought we agreed on this, Geoff, love," she began to chastise me, and despite myself I grinned, though I kept it hidden. Twisted as it sounds, I absolutely loved it when she chastises me. "I can't afford the scandal of being seen in public with a penniless raving lunatic of a writer, not when my father's got his sights set on some other, non-raving-lunatic match for me. And, quite honestly, you know that William's not going to keep you on if you've got yourself a mistress, least of all one that's such a liability, as you can't keep your mouth shut and told me everything all but straight off. So it's a secret."
"I object somewhat to the 'raving lunatic' part of the description, cherie," I told her flippantly, finishing off my rhyme. "I somewhat prefer the title of 'artistic genius'. 'Literary wizard', even, would suffice. Let us not shortchange my work, shall we? If you are hiding out from inn to inn just to spend time with me, can we at least attempt not to completely demolish my self-esteem? Please?"
Philippa snorted in a most un-lady-like fashion at this (my favorite fashion of hers, quite honestly). "Geoff, if there's one thing you don't need to worry about, it's your levels of self-esteem," she muttered. "Whatever you've got going there, I highly doubt it's all that wonderful…"
If she had stolen my firstborn son from my arms right that instant and flung him down a well, I'm not sure I could have mustered up any more indignation and horror. "Not all that wonderful?" I repeated, thunderstruck. "Not all that wonderful? Philippa, my dear woman, have you even read any of this?"
"Oh, some of it," she said with a wry smile. "You know I think it's good, Geoff, more than that, I think it's wonderful. A little opaque at times, occasionally I wonder if you even know what you're talking about, but it really is better than most of the trash flooding the world at the moment. But you've got to admit yourself, it's not exactly lacking in self-esteem."
"Why, I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what you are insinuating," I said blandly, though of course I had every idea in the world.
"Mmm," she said dryly. "Shall I remind you, Geoff, of why exactly you are the most egotistical, ridiculous man ever to pick up a pen?"
"Remind me," I said lazily. "Just keep your voice down, love. Wat may sleep like a redheaded sack of potatoes, but Roland is more than likely to hear you if you keep going into hysterics."
"'He's a likely man to embrace for any woman, small and fair of face'? 'There's something elvish in his countenance'? 'Read the works of Chaucer, he could put it better than I'? Geoff, darling, you can't continuously call yourself handsome and brilliant in the middle of a serious work of literature, you know! People are bound to notice you're talking about yourself," Philippa declared, hands on her unsettlingly attractive hips, though I noticed she was suddenly making more pains to keep her voice down. Not that she held much love for the match her father was attempting to make, indeed I knew she would celebrate if I happened to break it up for her, but she knew how much this job meant to me. In my state, I could hardly afford to lose it.
"I'm flattered you took the time to memorize excerpts of The Canterbury Tales, dear," I said with a smile, getting up and crossing the room to sit down on the bed next to her. My lazy sprawl seemed to cut off her words, and I grinned wickedly. Excellent. Still got it, Geoff. Still got it. "And was a single word of it a lie, Pip?" I murmured with a highly impropriatous wink.
Philippa flushed deeply, which caused me an enormous amount of pleasure. "Didn't you point out yourself that pride is a deadly sin?" she asked, though I knew she wasn't really attempting to derail this turn of events. I knew her far, far too well for that.
"Aye, and so is this," I whispered, and without further prologue I leaned forward and our lips met softly.
It was gentle, not out of the city-state of innocent at first, but Philippa gripped a handful of my hair and pulled me in closer, urgency taking over through our lips. Is it any wonder I love this woman? She's not content to sit back and let me have all the fun. Fortunately for the risk of overhearing companions, the moan that very nearly slipped from my mouth and gave us away was cut off as her tongue crossed through my lips, and I can only describe the situation thus: I was at a loss for words. No, truly, I was. If that doesn't tell the whole story then I do not know what would.
Too soon for my liking, it became necessary to breathe. Philippa and I drew back, looking each other over with sparkling eyes, and never before had my heart swelled within my chest with such passion, that could not be denied for anything.
"Christ have mercy on me, for I have sinned," I whispered, my hands brushing her soft entrancing curves as I softly kissed her neck. "Meekly, I beseech you, the Lord our God," I went on, my lips moving steadily southward, "From whom all goodness and understanding springs forth…" An interesting choice of words on my part, I will admit, as something else was certainly springing forth as I unlaced her bodice with maybe too much ease, and she aided me out of my shirt, "To take pity on my soul…"
"Oh my Lord, Geoff, and it's a Sunday too, isn't it?" Philippa laughed to herself. "Thou shalt not do It on a Sunday and all that…"
"I think I'm willing to risk a little more damnation," I breathed, overcome by the radiance of the unhidden goddess before me. No time to waste, then, my body could take no more stalling…
"Eh! Chaucer! Can I…"
"Ah, damn," I muttered. Philippa, strangely, found the means to be amused as the door slammed open and a very surprised Wat stood framed in the doorway, his face getting closer to the color of his hair by the second.
"And that, Master Wat, is why we knock before entering," I commented, taking less than no pains to hide my nakedness. It wasn't as if it was anything new to him, you know; with this new lifestyle going from gambling house to gambling house I was beginning to spend more time out of my clothes than in them. Philippa wisely retained some modesty; she had pulled the bedsheet around her as an impromptu toga. "And I swear to you, Faulhurst, if you tell one word of this to anyone, if you breathe one word that may destroy this lady's virtue any more than I have already done…" I left the threat open-ended. Experience had taught me that the imagination is always more cruel and unusual than what is explicitly stated.
"Er, right, I'll… I'll come back later," Wat managed. "Sorry, Miss, er…"
"Oh, not at all, dearie," Philippa said with a cheery smile. The Scotsman's discomfort was profoundly amusing to me, and I couldn't help but smile… That was, until he decided to add one more sentence.
"I thought you liked men, mate, honestly."
"Out," I said tiredly, and again Philippa was bizarrely amused by this. The door banged shut behind him, and my lady love again shed her toga.
"Where were we?" she inquired, teasing, and Lord knew I did not need to be teased right now. Then again, maybe the Lord didn't know. It seemed that if the Lord were to frown upon these sorts of things, if He did not believe that two people could be so passionately in love that nothing and nobody and no protocol could stop them, then there were a few things He was missing out on.
"Heaven and Hell, my love," I purred, taking up exactly where we left off, "and all the places inbetween."
Sundays and everything else be damned.
Gah! Chaucer is so much fun to write that quite honestly it's probably unhealthy. Every ridiculous metaphor and flowery figurative phrase I feel like using has some direction, if only for one one-shot. Honestly, I aspire to be Paul Bettany's Chaucer. Is that wierd? Yes? Yes. Oh well. That's perfectly fine with me.
Read and review! You know Chaucer would want you to... Wink wink nudge nudge