[An Original Historical Fiction Fan adaptation of the characters from the BBC’s Robin Hood; & a Sequel to “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” (Book 2) by Gratiana Lovelace]
(All Rights Reserved; No copyright infringement intended)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisborne, Clive Standen as Lord Archer of Locksley, Emma Watson as Lady Roseanna Gisborne, Tommy Bastow as the young Seth Gisborne, Lucy Griffiths as the spectre of Lady Marian, James McAvoy as Lord George Middleton, Toby Stephens as Prince/King John, Dakota Fanning as Lady Caroline Havorford, Chris Hemsworth as Sir Roderick Merton, Tamsin Egerton as Lady Rebecca Oxbridge Merton, Lee Ross as Sir Jasper, Sir Derek Jacobi as Fr. Bale, Judi Dench as Mother Superior, David Harewood as Brother Tuck, Kevin McKidd as Lord John Oxbridge Earl of Leicester, and Lucy Griffiths as Lady Anne/Marian, Sam Troughton as Much, and Gordon Kennedy as Little John, etc.]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Sir Guy’s Atonement” is a story of romance and intrigue set amidst Medieval times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (S) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments (D). I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: With Lady Rebecca and Sir Roderick’s marriage solidified with the arranged annulment of her first marriage to Lord John Oxbridge–and then Lord John being made legally alive again–that cleared the way for Lord John to marry his nurse, caretaker, companion, and love, the Lady Anne/Marian. And Baron Guy of Gisborne has brokered a betrothal agreement between his almost eleven year old son and heir Seth Gisborne and the twelve year old Lady Caroline Havorford. So, on the morrow, Baron Guy and Lady Roseanna will share the news with Seth about his formal betrothal to the lady he has chosen, Lady Caroline Havorford. And their family will move forward unfettered, released from the past, and with the promise of a bright future.
Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Ch. 45 (PG-13, S) Courtship and Marriage
These past five years since the events in July 1199 that catapulted Seth Gisborne’s family into distress with the Oxbridge marriages difficulties–and Seth’s own father’s past sins staring him in the face in the person of Lady Anne, nee Lady Marian Knighton–have been surprisingly uneventful and peaceful, blessedly so. Baron Guy of Gisborne was relieved that Lady Anne/Marian found happiness in love and family as she delightedly co-parented Lord John’s two young children with he and his former wife Lady Rebecca. Seth’s Mama Lady Roseanna almost immediately–well, seven months later–graced them with another brother named Crispin Guy Stephen Gisborn whom they call Stephen. The baby’s Papa Baron Guy of Gisborne allowing no abhorrent diminuative nicknames such as Stevie–boy nicknames being prevalent amongst the Middleton-Oxbridge extended family. So the Gisborne-Middleton Manor family is once again balanced with four males and four females among the two parents Baron Guy and his wife Lady Roseanna and their six children.
Yet when you are young, time drags slowly–never more so than when you are trying to reach a goal. And for Seth Gisborne, his goal was to reach his sixteenth birthday in August 1204. And that he has done these three months past now that it is November of 1204. As a sixteen year old, Seth is a man in the eyes of God and society–and Seth may now woo and wed his chosen bride and betrothed, the Lady Caroline Havorford. But it is a delicate matter still yet to be finally resolved.
However with the young couple in Seth and Lady Caroline being already acquainted by strong family connections–with her sister Lady Mary being Seth’s Aunt as the wife of his Mother Lady Roseanna’s brother Lord George Middleton–Seth and Lady Caroline have naturally come into contact with each other at family gatherings and holidays. Though these past two years, Seth has been too busy with his knighthood training with his Uncle Lord Archer’s garrison at Nottingham Castle and he has not been home since before last Christmas in December of 1203.
And as naturally happens with young men who are well into their teen years, Seth has grown in maturity mentally, emotionally, and physically. Indeed, Seth has had another growth spurt this past year that puts him well above six feet four inches tall–even taller than his Papa Baron Guy–so much so that Seth will tower over the petite and winsome Lady Caroline when next they meet. And Seth’s rigorous physical training for the knighthood has molded his body into a fine muscularity that suits his tall and broad shouldered frame well and the chiseled jaw of his now quite handsome face [(2) right]. Baron Guy feels that he is staring at a younger reflection of himself when he looks at his son–so keen is the resemblance between them.
And Seth finds that him crossing his arms in front of himself accentuates his broad shoulders since several Nottingham Castle noble ladies have flirted with him on occasion. But Seth only slightly blushes and might dance with them, but that is all. Seth’s father Baron Guy had had a general manly talk with him long ago about love and marriage and young men’s needs. Baron Guy wants a more noble path for his son than what his own introduction to and early treatment of women had been. So Seth has heeded his father’s advice–helped in part by the promise of his wedding to Lady Caroline after he turns sixteen–so not too long a wait for Seth to enter into full manhood as a married man.
And yet, the now maturing Seth is as he ever was, a loved and loving eldest son to two doting parents–Baron Guy of Gisborne and his Baroness Lady Roseanna–and the brother whom his siblings all look up to. None but his Papa Baron Guy who has ventured to Nottingham regularly to check on Seth’s progress with his knighthood training, have seen the recently mature and much taller Seth. Nor has his intended Lady Caroline–six months his senior and already a blossoming seventeen year old maid–seen her betrothed since he has matured this past year.
Seth wonders if Lady Caroline will recognize him–or think him too tall and gangly a figure for her notice. And he mischievously decides to put his question to the test when Seth begs to accompany his father Baron Guy on a short trip to the Havorford estate east of Nottingham to discuss finalizing the union between himself and Lady Caroline. The betrothal was settled long ago, but the precise nature of their period of formal courtship leading up to Seth’s and Lady Caroline’s marriage is open for debate. Will they be wed by Christmastide before the new year–with snow pillowing the ground? Or will the nuptials be celebrated in the verdant Spring?
The wedding date will depend, in part, upon the wishes of the fair maid, Lady Caroline. She and Seth have not seen each other since last Christmastide–when Seth was still a bit gangly and awkward–and much shorter. And though he had awkwardly attempted to kiss her under an obliging sprig of mistletoe, she had maneuvered herself out of the way. And all Seth kissed was the air. At that time, Lady Caroline fancied herself to be a mature maid–who had several knights dancing attendance upon her. Her being slightly older gave her the advantage on Seth in terms of maturity. But Lady Caroline will soon discover that Seth has closed the distance in the disparity of their maturity levels.
After arriving at the spacious, but by no means overly large, Havorford Manor estate with his father this early November 1204, Baron Guy and Lord Havorford are instantly sequestered in Lord Havorford’s study to discuss courtship and wedding logistics scenarios. This leaves Seth to roam the halls of what he hopes will become a frequent site for he and Lady Caroline’s family gatherings with her family when they are married.
Seth wonders where Lady Caroline is, and why she was not among the party that greeted his and his Papa Baron Guy’s arrival. But Lady Havorford suggested that Lady Caroline was at prayers and could not be disturbed. Trying not to roll his eyes at that obvious prevarication, Seth interpreted Lady Havorford to mean that they wanted to present Lady Caroline to him with much pomp and show at this evening’s formal dinner with guests already arriving from the nearby town for the feast. So Seth bathes to remove the dust of the road and he dresses in his one of his day dress tunics of dove grey coloring with matching breeches. He will change later into his evening finery for the feast.
Later as Seth wanders the vast halls of the Havorford manor to release his nervous energy at the prospect of seeing his betrothed Lady Caroline again, Seth rounds a smooth grey stone corner of the Havorford manor, he comes upon a scene of a lovely lady in a muted pine green silk gown reading her bible near a plastered gallery wall of portraits and landscap scenes. Seth thinks that all she needs to fit comfortably among the portraits would be a gilt frame surrounding her form. And though her hair has darkened over the years since maintaining her fair complexion does not lead her to be out of doors all day in the sun as she was playing as a child–which had sun kissed her hair then with streaks of flaxengold–Lady Caroline still has her charming blue eyes that Seth remembers so fondly.
Startled by the noise of footsteps, Lady Caroline turns [(3) right] to see a tall and handsome but unfamiliar man before her.
Lady Caroline: “Oh! Good Sir, you startled me.” She lowers her lashes as her face pinkens in a charming blush as she admires the virile looking young man before her.
Seth recognizes her interested gaze and stands taller–if that is possible. And realizing that Lady Caroline does not know who he is–even though he instantly recognized her–Seth dissembles with a courtly bow.
Seth: “My apologies, My Lady. I have come for the feast. And almost as soon as I arrived, I became separated from my father and lost my way in this lovely manor home. Might you be able to direct me to one of the family members or their servants?” He asks earnestly–feigning that he does not know who she is–and hiding the smile threatening to curl upon his lips.
Lady Caroline: “I am Lady Caroline Havorford.”
Seth: “Oh! Then your family is our host for tonight’s feast. Pray tell me what it is we are celebrating? I fear that my father rushed to make ready our way here and had not informed me of the particulars.” Seth smiles pleasantly, secure in his ruse. Then he almost gets caught in a lie.
Lady Caroline: Her having listened politely, she now says pointedly. “Might you not share your name with me, Sir? If I am to be your hostess, I should at least know your name.”
Seth: “Indeed you should! My abject apologies, My Lady! I have a tendency to become forgetful of my manners whenever I behold such beauty as yours.” He smiles warmly and still does not tell her his name.
Lady Caroline: “Thank you! But you should know that though I welcome your kind remarks, I am not at liberty to accept your addresses. I am betrothed.” She says the last phrase in a sighing way.
Seth: Seth wonders why she is so glum. “Betrothed? Forgive me, but you do not seem happy about it.” He observes cautiously.
Lady Caroline: “Well, our betrothal was decided long ago–when we were children. But I have not seen my intended for almost a year. And he was still rather boyishly awkward then.” She pouts.
Seth: “And do you not think that a year might have improved him?” Seth asks with a deep voice similar to his Papa’s.
Lady Caroline: “Perhaps. Or he might have decided against me but cannot extricate himself from our contract.”
Seth: “I cannot imagine any man wanting to extricate himself, as you say, from such a lovely and charming person as yourself. What makes you speculate so?”
Lady Caroline: “He has not written to me, you see. Nor has he tried to visit me while he is in training at Nottingham Castle–only a day’s journey away.”
Seth: “Perhaps he is busy, My Lady. Training for the knighthood involves much focus on our principles, war tactics, and physical exertion to condition our bodies for battle.” Yet Seth silently chides himself for not sending Lady Caroline at least one written missive. And he resolves to rectify that omission before the feast tonight.
Then a manor servant interrupts them.
Footman: Bowing, he says. “My Lady, your mother Lady Havorford entreats you to join her in her private sitting room before the feast.”
Lady Caroline: “Yes, thank you.” The Footman bows again and leaves. “I must go, Sir. I hope you will enjoy the feast.” She states politely.
Lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it in farewell, Seth smiles.
Seth: “I believe I shall, My Lady. And if I may be so bold, might I claim a dance with you after the feast?” Seth smiles mischievously. He hasn’t meant to deceive her about who he is, but an opportunity to correct her mistaken impression has not arisen.
Lady Caroline: “You may.” She smiles shyly, her thinking that he is quite handsome.
It is only when Lady Caroline relates the tale of the tall and handsome noble whom she met to her Mama Lady Havorford that Lady Caroline realizes that he did not tell her his name. But no matter, she will meet him at the feast and rectify that deficit. And it is a short time later sitting quietly in her boudoir when a maid delivers a small bundle of flowers and a note to Lady Caroline from Seth stating that he looks forward to seeing her this evening at the feast, that she is even made aware that her betrothed Seth arrived with his Papa Baron Guy of Gisborne. Though she is excited to receive a note and the flowers from Seth, Lady Caroline nervously wonders how she might manage her expected obligation to dance with her betrothed Seth tonight with the more pleasing offer from this new knight in training she became acquainted with this afternoon.
The Havorford banquet room is ablaze with light from so many candles that Seth believes that the nearby village must be dark. With Seth [(4) top right] in a teal blue velvet colored tunic and his sword standing next to his Papa Baron Guy in his navy velvet tunic and his sword, the two men make a formidable vision of manly perfection.
One man a distinguished yet still quite handsome fifty year old man [(5) lower right] , and the other man his sire’s younger and handsome counterpart. However when they are introduced by the announcer, there are so many people milling about that the petite Lady Caroline can only see the tops of their heads as she darts her eyes trying to sneak a peek at what her betrothed Seth looks like now.
Baron Guy of Gisborne moves swiftly through the mass of feasters to greet their Havorford hosts.
Lord Havorford: “Welcome again, Baron Gisborne! My wife, Lady Havorford, you know.” She smiles and nods at their distinguished guest and soon to be father-in-law of their daughter Lady Caroline.
Baron Guy: Lifting her hand to his lips, Baron Guy cordially greets his hostess. “My Lady, it is a pleasure to be welcomed into your home for such a much anticipated event–our two children’s formal betrothal announcement.”
Lady Havorford: “It is our pleasure as well. I would introduce you to Lady Caroline, but I believe that she is still at her evening prayers.”
Seth wonders if Lady Havorford always uses this excuse to explain Lady Caroline’s absences. But in looking about the room, he spots Lady Caroline amongst a bevy of admirers. Seth bristles and straightens his stance and then makes his apologies to his father and the Havorfords.
Seth: “Excuse me. But I see Lady Caroline standing next to the tapestry. I will go greet her.” Seth’s expression is rather steely for one so young, but his jealousy at seeing his intended so admired by other men has overwhelmed his sense of decorum. Seth bows and leaves.
Baron Guy: Smiling graciously to cover his son’s unexpected removal, Baron Guy remarks. “Besotted! After five years of waiting, Seth and Lady Caroline may now look forward to their marriage.”
As the tall and commanding looking Seth strides toward Lady Caroline across the banquet room, the other guests part to let him pass. Then Lady Caroline spots him and her eyes widen. And the other men and knights surrounding her wonder who this interloper is.
Seth: “My Lady.” Seth bows and lifts Lady Caroline’s hand for a kiss. “Might I have a private word with you before the feast begins?” Seth narrows his beady gaze at the other men–with his hand laid upon his sword hilt–and the men wisely disperse. Lady Caroline is his betrothed, not theirs. Seth just needs to let her know who he is–preferably in a private location should she rightly be upset with him for not revealing himself earlier to her.
Lady Caroline: Anxiously looking around the room, she shakes her head. “I cannot, Sir. My betrothed has arrived. Though I have not seen him yet, I am certain to at any moment.” Then Lady Caroline notices the embroidered crest upon Seth’s velvet tunic and she looks up at his face in alarm.
Seth: “I agree with you. That is why I wish to speak to you.”
Seth holds his arm out in a firm manner, waiting for her acquiescence. After a long moment, Lady Caroline softly places her arm around his and Seth leads her out of the banquet hall. The two sets of parents see them leave and smile at each other knowingly. Once in the outer hallway, Seth takes Lady Caroline to a quiet corner.
Lady Caroline: “What is it you wish to say to me … Seth?” Lady Caroline looks at him wide eyed. She is angry with him for misleading her earlier. But she could hardly have thought that the man before her then was the boy Seth as she last knew him.
Seth: “Oh! So now you know who I am? Yet you still allow other men to pay their addresses to you when you are my betrothed?” His fury is evident in his voice as he makes his charge. “And here I thought to apologize to you for my not telling you who I was when we met earlier.”
Lady Caroline: “I accept your apology, Sir.” She replies crisply, but stands her ground in the face of his rising anger. “It was most wrong of you to pretend to be another.”
Seth: “That was not my original intent!” He hisses.
Lady Caroline: “Yet you played false with me and elicited my private thoughts on the matter of our betrothal.” She accuses.
Seth: “On that point, My Lady, I found your candor refreshing. And if you still feel now as you did then, I will gladly release you from our betrothal promise if you wish to be married to another.”
Seth’s words are hasty and he wishes that he could rescind them almost as soon as they leave his lips. But they are out now, and he must stand behind them. Though he cannot tell from her frozen expression if Lady Caroline wishes to end their betrothal.
Lady Caroline: “My Lord Gisborne, if you wish to end our betrothal, I will gladly release you.” Her steely gaze meets his as these two young people.
Seth: “Fine!” Seth blurts out in frustration for having muddled it and lost his betrothal to Lady Caroline.
Lady Caroline: “Fine!” She hisses in hurt and anger.
Lady Caroline trembles with her own fury and takes a step back, stumbling upon a floor candle pedestal’s splayed foot, knocking it backward into a small tapestry wall hanging and setting the tapestry afire. Lady Caroline would have fallen backward toward the growing flames were it not for Seth’s quick action in reaching out for her and pulling her to him. Then realizing that a small flame had already been transferred to the skirting on the back hip of Lady Caroline’s dress, Seth pats it out with his bare hand, singing his left palm in the process. Lady Caroline whimpers in distress.
Seth: “Are you alright, Caroline?”
Lady Caroline: “Oh Seth!” She crumples in shock and relief, but finds support in his firm embrace.
Seth: “Shhh! Shhh! You’re alright, Caroline My Love.” He soothes and kisses the top of her head as he moves her further away from the fire.
Then still holding Lady Caroline in his strong arms, her clinging to him in relief, Seth yells to bring aid to put out the small blaze.
Seth: “Fire! Fire!”
Indeed, the servants come and the fire is snuffed out quite quickly with a servant using one of the many soup tureens’ contents to do the deed after the small tapestery is pulled off the wall. And then the large manor dogs eagerly make short work of the soup clean up on the stone floor.
By now, the guests and their Havorford hosts in the banquet hall have emptied out into the outer hallway to see what all the commotion is about. Lady Caroline’s parents see their daughter cradled in her betrothed Seth’s arm, while he gingerly holds his burnt hand up and away from touching anything. He is in a lot of pain as the palm of his left hand reddens and blisters–happily, it is not his sword hand. Their parents rush toward them.
Baron Guy: “What happened here?” Baron Guy looks worriedly from Seth to Lady Caroline, still nestled into Seth’s arms.
Lord Havorford: “Yes, tell us!”
Seth: “Lady Caroline stumbled over the candle pedestal foot as she stepped backward and the candle toppled into the tapestry and was set ablaze.” Then he continues sheepishly, for his ministrations caused him to touch his intended’s velvet covered backside. “Then I saw that her skirt had caught on fire and I patted it out.” Seth wincingly holds up his reddened and blistering left palm.
Lady Havorford walks around to her daughter’s back and sees that the dress was indeed damaged by the fire.
Lady Havorford: “Oh Seth! We are in your debt for saving our daughter’s life!” Then she turns to her daughter. “Dearest, we must get you changed into another gown. Yours is ruined until it can be repaired.”
Lady Caroline: Finding her voice, she says shyly. “No Mama. We must first tend to Seth’s injuries. He must be in great pain.” Lady Caroline gazes up into Seth’s face and sees the truth of her statement written across his face.
Baron Guy: Having surveyed his son’s palm, he waves others way. “No need, I will bandage it for him.”
Slightly detaching herself from Seth’s embrace, but still with her left hand in Seth’s uninjured right hand, Lady Caroline counters her future father-in-law’s command.
Lady Caroline: “With respect, Baron Gisborne, with myself as Seth’s betrothed–and in his debt for his service in saving me from great injury just now–it is I who must care for his wound.” Then without waiting for a response from the bemusedly astonished Baron Guy, Lady Caroline tugs on Seth’s uninjured right hand. “I have some some healing ointment in my bed chamber to ease your pain. And I will then bandage your hand.”
Lady Havorford: “My Dear! Seth may not enter your bed chamber until you are married!” Their guests chuckle.
Lady Caroline: “Seth is injured, Mama. Come with us as chaperone. Then when Seth returns to await the feast, you may help me change into a different gown.” Lady Caroline states reasonably.
Lord Havorford: “Go on my dears.” Lord Havorford shakes his head.
Then watching their children walk up the stairs to the bed chambers, Baron Guy leans over to Lord Havorford and asks sotto voce .
Baron Guy: “Shall we make it a Christmastide wedding then?” Baron Guy smirks.
Lord Havorford: Nodding in resignation, Lord Havorford responds. “We look forward to it! Five weeks should give us enough time to plan the fete.”
Once inside Lady Caroline’s bed chamber–which to Seth, looks very much like any of his sisters’ bed chambers at Gisborne-Middleton Manor with an abundance of pinks and flowers–Lady Caroline motions for Seth to sit upon the cushioned bench at the end of her bed and she tends to him. Her Mama Lady Havorford hovers nearby for the sake of propriety. And Lady Caroline had asked her servants for water and such with which to clean his wound before applying an ointment and bandages on her way up the stairs. So after the disagreeable necessity of cleaning Seth’s burned palm is past–the pain causing him to gasp and groan several times–Seth finally relaxes a bit as Lady Caroline applies her ointment to his palm as she cuts a plant leave and squeezes its sap out onto Seth’s palm.
Seth: “Ahhh! This feels cool and soothing. What is the plant again?”
Lady Caroline: “It is an aloe vera plant. The leaves harbor medicinal properties for both healing and pain relief. My Papa received a plant from an acquaintance who returned from the Holy Land years ago and we have propagated it in our greenhouse.” [(6)] Lady Caroline smiles tenderly to Seth. “Is that better?” She asks after letting more of the plant’s sap drip onto Seth’s burn blistered palm.
Seth: “Yes! Thank you!” He sighs.
Lady Caroline takes a clean strip of linen cloth and gently wraps Seth’s hand to encase the soothing ointment within to promote healing. Seth and Lady Caroline smile sweetly at each other as she does this. Earlier, he had patronized her and she had lashed back for his censure. But with Seth saving her from injury and calming her with his embrace and soothing words after the fire, Lady Caroline has softened toward him, and forgiven him for his discourteous behavior. Also neither of them wishes to set aside their betrothal. But they have not had time to clarify that with each other.
Lady Havorford: “Caroline, let Seth go downstairs and return to his father. We will be down shortly.”
Seth stands and looks soulfully at Lady Caroline.
Lady Caroline: “Wait, Mama. I wish a moment alone for Seth and I, if you please.”
Lady Havorford: “That is not proper.” She fidgets
Lady Caroline: “Mama, Seth and I will be wed soon. Please stand at the door and allow us a private parting.”
Her mother reluctantly nods in acquiescence and moves to the door to the corridor.
Taking Lady Caroline’s right hand in his uninjured right hand, Seth smiles cheekily.
Seth: “So our betrothal stands and our marriage will take place, My Love?” He kisses her hand as he did earlier today.
Lady Caroline shivers with hearing Seth’s endearing appellation for her again, My Love.
Lady Caroline: Shyly looking up into his eyes, she smiles lovingly at him. “Yes, if you wish it so, My Lord.”
Seth: His deep voice as soft as a caress, Seth gently chides her or her formality. “Caroline, I am Seth, your Seth. And you are My Caroline.” His voice smoulders with desire as he places her hand upon his heart. “My heart beats only for you Caroline–it always has. Well, once I saw sense when I entered my tenth year.” He smiles impishly. Then he becomes serious again. “But now I am a man of sixteen years–and soon to be a knight. Pray, do not have me wait much longer for us to be wed, My Beloved.” Bending down Seth whispers in her ear. “I wish to love and to cherish you as no woman has ever been. And I will give you sons and daughters as we build our family legacy. And I will honor you all of my days.”
Lady Caroline tilts her head up to gaze into Seth’s eyes filled with her love for him, mirroring his eyes filled with love for her. Then Seth slowly lowers his lips to hers and tenderly adores Lady Caroline with their first kisses, petal soft–mindful of her Mama not ten feet away from them. And Lady Havorford, discreetly monitoring the young couple smiles–her thinking that Christmastide might be a beautiful time for a wedding.
And so it is a pristinely beautiful snowy day with snow drifts pillowing bushes and roads when Seth and Caroline are wed in December 1204. With various Gisborne-Middleton-Locksley-Oxbridge-Merton cousins–as well as aunts and uncles and extended family and friends–in attendance, it is a joyful and playful event. But the wedding fete also has its serious side with Baron Guy of Gisborne and his wife Lady Roseanna beginning to field offers of betrothal for their now twelve year old daughter Lady Helen Gisborne. As of yet, Lady Helen’s interest has not been captured. Nor has her parents. So they will bide their time as Lady Helen is introduced into a wider acquaintance of noble families.
After the wedding feast at Havorford castle, Seth spirits his new wife Lady Caroline away to a small one bedroom cottage provided to them by her parents upon the property. The cottage is stocked with simple provisions for their comfort and sustenance should they not wish to venture beyond its walls for a day or two. It is the perfect sanctuary for them to begin their wedded life together.
Seth has brought inside more wood from the outside pile to increase the warmth of the fireplace in the eating and sitting area, as well as in the bedchamber. They will be cozy, just the two of them. His and Lady Caroline’s trunks of clothes and other necessities had been brought over earlier in the day by servants. All was made ready for their wedding night.
And now as the sun sets, Seth has allowed a suddenly and uncharacteristically shy Lady Caroline Gisborne to repair to the bed chamber alone to collect herself in private as she acquaints herself with where her things have been put away. Her Mama had tried unsuccessfully to explain to Lady Caroline about her new wifely role–her need to submit to her husband’s requests of her person that would be of an intimate nature. Ultimately, Lady Caroline’s long married sister Lady Mary eased her mind by saying that Seth and Lady Caroline’s loving as husband and wife will be a pleasant and joyful aspect to the marriage. No details were proferred, but Lady Caroline having lived in the country has a slight inkling of it.
Seth relaxes in a chair by the sitting room hearth after building up the fire, him wondering what could be taking his new wife so long in their bed chamber. He had his valet pack only his modest necessities of clothing and grooming–leaving his larger trunk of clothing in his bed chamber up at the Havorford manor house for him to return to later in the week. Seth had been urged by his Papa Baron Guy to be patient and considerate of his new wife Lady Caroline for the first days of his marriage to her. And Baron Guy had begun to rue what he presumed was Seth’s ignorance about carnal matters, as he began to explain what was required of Seth on his wedding night. While Seth thanked his Papa for his general recommendations, he waved off any telling of more. That Seth has never lain with a woman is not a hindrance in Seth’s own mind. He has loved only one woman, Lady Caroline. And his heart would not stand fulfilling his body’s needs with someone else as some of his fellow knights in training would boast about their conquests.
Hearing the bed chamber door creak slightly as it opens, Seth looks up to see Lady Caroline standing in the doorway, already in her night dress of linen and lace, her hair splayed about her shoulders in beautiful soft curls, her bare feet peeking out from beneath the lace hem of her night dress. Seth’s heart begins to pound as he unsteadily stands up from the chair.
Seth: “Caroline, My Love. You are so beautiful.” His deep voice lifts with loving awe. Seth is wearing just a simple loose blousy shirt over his trousers, after removing his tunic and boots.
Lady Caroline: “Thank you, Seth. You look handsome, too.” She pauses, uncertain as to what will happen next. Then she shivers from the chill of her bare arms in the cooler bed chamber.
Seth: “You are cold. Let me stoke up the fire in our bed chamber.” Seth moves quickly forward, smiling at realizing he said our bed chamber.
As Seth carries several logs into their bed chamber, he notices that the fire had died down from the servants earlier tending of it. So he sets about increasing it with stacking two logs in the rack and then using a bellows to fan the flame. Lady Caroline watches him intently. She notices that his forearms are quite muscular with his long sleeves rolled back so they don’t catch fire. He looks over his shoulder at her standing there expectantly. He smiles warmly to her.
Lady Caroline: “How is your hand, Seth?” She had noticed that he used a glove on his almost healed left hand when he lifted the logs and carried them in here.
Seth: “It is fine–just a little tender.” He stands up. “Why don’t you get into bed under the covers to stay warm?” He suggests practically. Then Seth blanches, thinking about the implications of his suggestion–and wondering if his new wife thinks that he is over eager to claim his husbandly prerogative.
Lady Caroline: “I tried that earlier. But the sheets are freezing.” She sheepishly shrugs her shoulders. And she wonders if all new brides have such issues as freezing cottages to contend with–on top of relinquishing their virginity to their husbands on their wedding night.
Seth: “I can fix that!” He smiles jauntily and leaves the room taking an object near the hearth with him. But he returns quickly, now holding the metal object in front of him. “Bed warmer! I made sure that the manor house supplied us with one since it is freezing outside.”
Lady Caroline smiles and nods. She watches as Seth goes to the bed and he peels back the coverlets and then the top sheet. Then he slides the metal bed warmer with a warming coal inside in between the sheets–first on one side of the bed, and then the other. Lady Caroline places her hand on the sheet where the warmer had been and smiles.
Lady Caroline: “That’s much better.”
By now, the fire in the bed chamber fireplace hearth is growing and emitting some cozy heat into the small room. Seth removes the bedwarmer and sets it near the fireplace–lifting the hot coal out of it with tongs and putting it into the fireplace.
Seth: “There, do you feel warm enough now.” He asks hopefully as he stands and walks over to the bed again.
Lady Caroline: “I do.” She nods.
Seth: Standing across the bed from her, gazing lovingly at his new wife, Seth asks. “Would you like to …” Seth stops. He has never entreated a lady to join him in bed before. And she is his wife–the lady who will share his life and give him children. He wonders if there should be a more polite protocol as fitting her honored place in his heart.
Lady Caroline: “Yes.” Sensing her new husband’s quandary, Lady Caroline lifts up the coverlets and sheets on her side of the bed and sits down, then she pivots into lifting her legs onto the feather mattress and she lies down, covering herself to keep warm.
Seth: Feeling anxious for a passing moment, Seth delays by thinking of a practicality. “Let me just put up the fireplace screens here and in the sitting room.”
Lady Caroline: “Alright.” She nods, snuggling under the covers as Seth does that.
Soon Seth rejoins Lady Caroline in their bed chamber–him still wearing his blousy shirt and trousers. There is not a standing screen where he might change–or at least remove his shirt and trousers in relative privacy. This intimacy of a shared bed chamber is all new to him–and to her.
Seth: “Caroline? Might you please close your eyes whilst I undress? Then I will join you in the bed.” He almost gulps in nervousness.
Lady Caroline: “Of course.” She agrees in a small trembling voice.
Lady Caroline complies and closes her eyes with her hands clasped lightly over her coverlet and her nightdress covered breasts. Or at least, she lowers her eyelids approximating her eyes being closed as she wickedly watches through her lowered lashes as her new husband disrobes. Seth turns his back to the bed and then he unfastens and lowers his trousers–leaving just his drawers on. After a moment of hesitation, Seth also removes his drawers. He is now naked below his waist. But she cannot see his bare form because Seth’s blousy shirt is long and covers his thighs. Seth sits upon the bed with his back to her–him slightly pulling up his blousy shirt out of the way in the back. Then he pulls his shirt over his head, revealing his bare back and hips to his new wife–who gasps in appreciation for his fine form.
Lady Caroline: “Hhhh!”
Seth quickly pulls the coverlets and sheet over himself as he lies down in the bed in one fluid motion.
Seth: “You may open your eyes now …” He smirks. “Unless they are already open.”
Lady Caroline’s eyes fly open at being caught admiring her husband.
Lady Caroline: “I wasn’t looking.” She tries to pretend to him. But her blushing face gives her away.
Seth rolls toward her in their cozy bed and perches himself up onto his side, with his head propped up on his left arm, as he smiles lovingly at her and with his bare chest revealed to her. Her eyes widen.
Seth: “Are you looking now, My Love?” He asks a tad cheekily. She looks shyly away. However with his right hand he guides her face to look back at him. Then Seth says tenderly. “You are allowed to look, My love…and to touch.”
His right hand moves to her left hand nearest him. He lifts it up and kisses her fingers before bringing them to touch his bare chest. Then he leans down and kisses her with sweetness that soon becomes passionate as she responds to his kisses. Seth pulls her to him under the covers as they lay flush together–only the flimsy linen covering of her nightdress separates their bodies. Seth can feel Caroline’s soft curves molding to his own hard sinews–and his body is excited beyond anything he has experienced before. And Caroline feels her husband’s muscular form covering hers, warming her in ways that requires no fire, but that burns from within.
Caroline: “Oh Seth!” She gazes up at him with love and trust as he hovers over her. He is her husband, this is his right. And she will soon know the depths of his love for her.
Then Seth renews the promise that he made her when their formal betrothal was announced at the feast not quite two months ago.
Seth: “My beautiful Caroline,I will honor you all the days of my life, love you as no woman has ever been loved, and cherish you beyond blissful imaginings.”
And then as Seth deepens his kisses and tenderly caresses his new wife–delighting in the wonder of her womanly beauty that is for him alone to know, and to take and give pleasure in as her husband–Lady Caroline is swept away in an awakening of her womanhood as they join their lives and their bodies as one. And Seth and Caroline well and truly begin their married lives together.
To be continued with Chapter 46 (End)
“Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Ch. 45 References, July 06, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #780)
1) My story cover for “Sir Guy’s Atonement” is a composite image of:
a) Sir Guy portrayed by Richard Armitage found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodefive/slides/5_086.jpg (crop-hair-manip-hi-res); and
b) The spectre image of Lady Marian is that of Lucy Griffiths who portrayed Lady Marian in the BBC series Robin Hood from 2006-2009 and was found at Hamilton Hodell Talent Management at http://www.hamiltonhodell.co.uk/cv/client_lucy-griffiths_id_100044.htm; image found at
2) Seth at 16 years of age is a Richard Armitage-pix5 (manipped to sepia tone) date unknown saved Jun0313 and courtesy of RANet—(Gratiana-dkrn-shrp-Sepia-bluebackground-Clr-bleyes-smlr-shrp2)
3) Lady Caroline Haverford age 16 image is that of Dakota Fanning and was found at http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JeZDF5a0e1Y/TwzxrAcQg_I/AAAAAAAAAjo/o03JTh8Haog/s1600/DiarioTwilight_9.jpg
4) Seth at 16 years in dress tunic is a manip of:
a) Richard Armitage (head only) in his twenties maybe image (hi-res, contrast, darken, sepia); original image was found at RANet, pix 5, date unknonw; and
b) The body of Richard, Duke of Gloucester played by Anuerin Barnard image (cropped to body only, hi-res, sharpened) The three sons of York image was from The White Queen FB page
5) Sir Guy in indigo tunic against Banquet Hall manip (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) in the BBC’s Robin Hood series 3, episode 5 (pix 108) (2009) was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodefive/slides/5_108
6) For more information about the medicinal properties of the aloe vera plant and its varieties, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe
“Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Previous Ch. 44 Blog Link with embedded illustrations (Post #778)