The Bleeding Rose
Delia wasn't surprised that Jon was there to catch her. He always was, though he wouldn't always...it was so confusing, so complicated, and it twisted her stomach into painful knots. How could she not relish the touch of his hands on her arms? She should have pulled away, she should have told him she didn't love him. But her face her, and their bodies were like one body. They fit together perfectly, something they'd proven time and time again, and when he let go she often had to check to make sure all of her limbs were there. It would feel like one was missing...or all of them. No, she wanted to keep her limbs for another moment. She wanted to feel his torso press against hers, the rise and fall of his angry breath.
Her body was a live wire, and when she looked down she saw that had shirt had become slightly untucked. It was embarrassing really, how her body took over. This was hardly the time for any of that..for heavens sakes, someone needed to slap her! Oh, they had. It hadn't worked. If they had been alone, she wouldn't have been able to help herself, whether she was leaving him or not.
And she was, she was.
He really was handsome, wasn't he?
No, no, no. She was keeping her hands to herself.
Mr. Oliver was the only one who could tear Delia's mind away from the hard muscles of Jon's stomach, and everything they led to. His reaction was not what she had expected. Delia had been waiting for more hurtful words, more yelling, but the Winchester's were being thrown out of the room...house? House. Yes, she'd heard him correctly, house. And he was sending her to her room? No, she didn't want to leave Jon's arms...but that look in the man's eyes were enough to help her step forward obediently. Her hand was still clutching her cheek, and she lowered it nervously as she passed, as if she were unsure whether he would lash out at her as well. Skirting around the man like a scared animal, Delia stepped into the hall and started back down her room.
That was when it hit her, that the moment before, the moment in Jon's arms...it would be the last one. It had to be.
She could not kill him. His father was no doubt screaming over it now, telling Jon that he had to send her away. He wouldn't do it, he would try to come with her...and so she would have to leave. That moment was the last moment he would ever hold her. The last time she'd looked at him...no. No, it couldn't be! It couldn't! Her heart was screaming, and tears had begun to roll down her cheeks. Every fiber of her being told her to turn back and run to him, but her heart forced her forward. It would turn black as coal if she killed him...well, if it wasn't already.
Betsy had been waiting nearby, stepping out of the shadows hesitantly. Delia made no move to wipe away the tears, pausing for a moment as she looked at the woman who had given her so much. "Call the doctor, will you Bets?" She said softly, eyes empty and far away. "Send him to the study. Tell him it's over." Delia moved past her, but Betsy grabbed her arm. Before she knew what she was doing, Delia had the woman in her embrace, clutching her like a girl might hold onto her mother. Betsy was stunned for a moment, before her hands moved hesitantly to hug her back. "Thank you." Delia whispered, the words so charged with gratitude and emotion Betsy couldn't seem to speak. All too quickly the girl pulled away, turning her back to the woman who had saved her, making the long walk back to her room.
It wasn't her first time on the horse, so to speak. The bag came out so easily, the dresses stuffed inside in a hurried, calculated manner. Things were left behind, laid out on the bed like a shrine. The dress made out of the material he'd bought her, the vase that had come with the flowers, a decorative comb he'd given her to keep her hair out of her face. Maybe it was cruel, but she couldn't keep them, couldn't be reminded. And yet, when she came across one of his shirts...it went straight into the bag. All to quickly everything was packed away, her cloak around her shoulders, her hands trembling as they grasped the carpenter bag. She took one of the back doors, an easy way to avoid being seen, and before she knew it she was out in the darkness.
Before she knew it, she'd forgotten to say goodbye to it all.
Delia moved quickly past the terrace where he'd held her hand, past the bushes were he'd kissed her, past the table hidden among them where they'd lost an afternoon to...more. She walked past the tables where he'd gotten the horses for the ride that nearly killed him, past the tree that grew peaches he used to pick and slip into her hand while she was working. He'd wait until she took a bite to kiss her, assuring her that it was the sweetest thing he'd ever tasted...normally she would have rolled her eyes....but he meant it, and she believed it. There was nothing cheesy about that, nothing false.
Would he be heartbroken? Of course he would, what sort of a question was that? An irrelevant one. He would be alive, that was all that mattered.
A smarter girl might have taken the road, a girl looking for work. But Delia was looking to disappear, and she went straight out over the moors. Maybe another house would appear, and it would start all over again? Maybe she could forget it all, maybe this could be nothing but a bad dream. Maybe it would break her heart so entirely she would no longer feel the pain? Delia's brisk pace faltered as her stomach lurched, a wave of nausea reminding her of the one person she'd forgotten. Her hand moved down to her stomach, feeling the hard spot just below her belly button. It was still flat, but doctor Mason had pointed it out to her earlier that day. It nearly brought her to her knees. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." She crooned, wondering if the child knew that she was costing it the chance of having a father. But she wasn't, not really. There was no chance. Mr. Oliver would never allow it, and Jon might not even live...but she was. It was still her fault to a degree, even if there was no other option for her. This was the only way she could keep both of them, to keep them apart. It broke her, it did, but here was nothing else to do.
"I'll take care of you." She promised, wondering if it was true. Servants were only allowed to keep their children with the help of a spouse or other servants. She had no friends, and she couldn't hope for any, being the whore she was. Her child would be sent to a convent, stolen from her arms for its own good. They would both be gone, both live better lives without her. There was nothing she could do but her best...but it wouldn't be good enough. It didn't matter what she wanted, not anymore. What mattered was what was best for them both...
And she wasn't it.
"Tuck your shirt in," Mr. Oliver snapped, unable to break the habit of being critical so easily. His eyes looked over his son in revulsion. The handsome boy looked scarcely better than a servant in his tawny breeches, tall riding boots, and untucked white poet shirt. The only thing that seemed to keep the billowy top on his body was the suspenders fastened to the pants. His dark hair was tumultuous, as well. Jonathan had picked up on the fact that Delia liked him best this way, and so he no longer bothered to dress fashionably nor properly. "How do you know it is your child?" The master pressed on stubbornly.
Jon gaped at his father in disgust. "I know it because she was not with child when she came here, and she has been with me nearly every moment since then. Besides, there are no men here besides me!"
The old master nodded, frowning heavily. His son was right. He crossed to the desk, unlocking and sliding open a drawer. He pulled from it a small red velvet box, which he looked at, pinched between his fingers, for a long moment. After gathering his courage, he pushed the lid up with his thumb. A breath he seemed to have been holding came whooshing out softly, and he snapped it fiercely shut again, before crossing the floor with aggressive steps. Jonathan thought his father might strike him when he reached out his arm, but instead, the older man merely thrust out the box to him. Jon took it tentatively, and opened it. "What is it?" he asked, although he already knew.
The doctor came about twenty minutes later, after Jon and his father had a very long discussion. It was difficult, and always on the brink of breaking out into an argument, but it was the first time that he could ever remember actually talking to his father, figuring out a plan like men. The doctor confirmed the truth he had already told Delia, because he dare not refuse Mr. Oliver. Doctor-patient confidentiality only went so far, and it did not extend to circumstances like these. He was still in there, talking to the men, when Betsy knocked timidly. "My lords," she squeaked. "I fear Cordelia has...run away."
"Done what?!?" bellowed Mr. Oliver, and Betsy shrank back from him, although it was Jonathan who grabbed her shoulders and shook her soundly.
"What do you mean, when!?" He cried.
"I-I- saw her not half an hour ago, and she said goodbye to me... N-not in so many words. When I realized...I went back to her room, but she was already gone, bag packed! I suppose she's gone off over the moorland..."
Over the moorland.
Those words were like death knells to Jonathan. The moor stretched on for miles in every direction. The sun was setting, and once dark fell, he would never find her. Not only that, but she was in a delicate condition... She ran because she thought that she would ruin him, she ran because she thought that she was unwanted by everyone save for Jonathan. Yet now that she was with child... Mr. Oliver wanted her to stay, as well. That was his grandchild. It was not a sentiment that he knew he would possess until faced with the reality. If it were a girl, it might look like his beloved Marianna...
"Why did you not say...!" Jon cried, pushing her aside to sprint from the room.
"Take a horse!" Mr. Oliver shouted after him, not wanting his son to waste time on foot, as he might have without the reminder. The older man ran after him, but was so much slower than his frantic son, that the boy was already saddled and gone by the time he arrived, breathless, at the stables. He ordered the old gardener to saddle a horse as well, and the two man rode off in what they hoped were opposite directions of Jonathan.
In the end, it was Jonathan who found her.
She was a feeble-looking silhouette on the horizon, before an orange sky, with deep purple overlaying whispery brown, bathing hills until they reached his horses' hooves. Jon kicked the animal and galloped after her, yelling "Yah!" to the beast as though every second were critical.
"Delia!" he shouted as he neared her, and then pulled up the horse suddenly when he was ten feet away. He leapt off of it, stumbling, the heather swallowing him up to his thighs. He pushed through the clump, racing up to her. "You would run from me, like a thief in the night?" he shouted. "You take with you my heart, and my child," he growled, catching her upper arm in his hand and pulling her close. His face was wild and angry as he looked down at her, which hid the terrible fright that she had given him. She could have died, and their baby, and every chance of happiness with them. He could have never heard from her again, never even found her body, if there was one to find. He would have wondered if she had even been real, or an apparition sent to torture him.
"It's not to be endured! I shall not endure it!" he shouted into her face, ripping the carpetbag from her hands and tossing it against the ground, before curling his other hand too tightly around her other bicep. "You shall never run from me again!" He shook with anger, and with...with something that was breaking him, right there, in front of her eyes. The curling black locks falling over his forehead were trembling, and he was leaning his brow on hers. Then his whole body was shaking, and his mouth was on her hair, not kissing it, but crying, openly, loudly. His fingers gripped into the sleeves of her dress, holding her to him. "Do not ever run from me again..." he begged, sobbed it, the words of a little boy who had been abandoned and unloved, coming through the mouth of a man who had finally learned to love, only to be betrayed. "What was my fault in loving you...with my whole heart?" he whispered, unable to bear the pain of relief at having found her, and the pain of not knowing whether or not he could keep her.
He held her, and shook, and cried, until he quieted at last, and moved back, though he did not release her. He made her look up into his eyes, set above wet cheeks like twin moons reflected above a rainy road. "Delia..." he whispered. "All of our worries have been swept away. My father...he supports the marriage. He will accept you as my wife. He wants you to be his daughter. He wants our c-child..." here he finally broke a hand away from her, and dropped his eyes to follow his fingers to gently touch her belly. "...to be his grandchild. We shall live in this house, and be a family together. He - he is changing, I've never seen him like this before...but he is at long last, my true father."
Hesitating, he let go of her and pulled away, pushing his fingers into one of his pockets, within which bulged a square object. He pulled out the small red box, and with a shaky breath, he took her slim left hand in his, and then, he knelt down on one knee in the heather, fragrant purple flowers swaying toward his chest. "Cordelia Scott," he whispered, eyes as honest as the heavens lifted to her. "Would you do me the great of honor of becoming my wife? You are already my beloved and my equal." He opened the box with one hand, and held it up to her. "This is the ring that my father gave to my mother, a woman he loved for her whole life, as I intend to do with you."
On a delicate, slim band of silver sat a tiny opal, faceted with veins of green, purples, and blues. Around it were clustered very small diamonds. "This ring shall symbolize my love for you, and our child, and whatever life may bring for us. Say yes, my Delia. End my suffering and breathe life into these moors." His voice broke and trailed off into a whisper, barely audible. "...Only say yes to me, now and always..."
The Bleeding Rose
She had watched the same one with Jon only a few days ago, her bare back pressed against his bare chest. His arms were wrapped beneath her knees, holding them to her chest, cradling her against him. Her finger had run up and down his arms, over and over again, loving the feel of his skin against hers. She liked the goosebumps it gave him, even though his breath didn't hitch in the way it would if she touched his thigh. It was nice, the quiet...and they did know how to be quiet. Conversation was good, but the silence was just as perfect. "It looks different, watching it here with you." She had told him, whispering so she wouldn't disturb the still air. "It feels like it means something."
This sunrise had meaning as well. It was the first day of forever she would spend without Jon. Delia wondered if she was dying, dizzy and weak, legs sore from pushing through the heather. The pain in her chest hadn't lessened, and occasionally a tear would roll over her cheek...but there was no fighting. She accepted the heartbreak, knowing that it would stay with her forever. Her expression was dead, empty, filled with exhaustion. Even when she heard the hoofbeats, she didn't have the heart to hide. Now it would be so much more painful..now he would watch her walk away. No, no! She could not bear it! Delia had accepted that she would never see him again. This...no, she couldn't handle this. When he fell into the heather she covered her face with one hand, closing her eyes tightly. Like a child, afraid of a monster, but Delia was afraid of something much worse. The most beautiful face she'd ever seen...the one she could not have.
He was angry.
It startled her enough to open her eyes and look up at him, that handsome face so filled with rage. His grip was firm, as if she might try to run, and he yelled at her with the force she deserved. Delia flinched, but her face was tired and her eyes turned towards the ground in shamed defeat. "I had to...there was no other way..." she whispered, but he yelled at her, ripping her bag from her hand and grasping both arms, holding them so tightly. His anger did not frighten her. It broke her, shattered her, this scene she had never meant to see. She was supposed to be long gone for this part, the hurt and betrayal, the mess she would leave behind to save a life later. Never had she imagined such agony in his eyes, nor that he would break. To feel him sob against her was too much to bear, and though she pressed two hands against his chest, as if to push away, her fingers slowly gripped fistfuls of his shirt.
His words were knives between her ribs, but she could not make promises. Tears slid down her cheeks, and she shook her head as he asked what her fault was. "Don't you know that I love you? Don't you know that you've done nothing wrong? I could not stay because I could not kill you. You heard your father as well as I did, I would be the one to kill you. I can't, Jon-, I can't." Delia let out a sob, and it was she who moved closer into his arms. "I could not kill you and stay behind with out grieving child in a cold, tiny house somewhere. Don't ask me to, please don't ask me to. I could not start a life with you and watch you leave it, knowing that I was the cause! I love you too much...I love you so..." but she couldn't speak, sobbing into his chest, holding him close. What a cruel twist of fate...now she would have to let go.
But he pushed her back, lifted her chin, and told her it wasn't so.
Had she died? Was this heaven? No, she wouldn't have been allowed there. But in what world would his father change his mind? In what world would the orange light illuminate the love in his eyes as he touched the place his child was with such affection? This world. This new world. Tears kept flowing from her disbelieving eyes, but they were tears of joy. The weight on her chest, the knife in her heart, they all began to fade away. Delia was trembling violently, struggling to breath from the aftermath of the sobs, but no breath had ever tasted as sweet.
He pulled out a box, he took her hand, and he knelt down in the purple flowers of the heather. It felt like a dream, though her mind was spinning with the harshness of reality. She was married. This...this was illegal. But not wrong. No, not wrong. It couldn't be. She was made for him, as he was for her. In that moment her false name became true, and as far as she was concerned, this was the only man who could be her husband, and this was the only ring that could sit on her finger until the day she died. Delia looked down at him with love, and nothing but it. Pure love and adoration, as she gripped his hand, tears of joy streaming with his words of devotion.
Of course, there was no other answer.
"Always. Yes, Jon, yes."
Delia dropped to her knees in front of him, kissing him as though she thought she would never get to again. She kissed him like it was the first of forever.