Chapter 10 "A peaceful and sweet retire"
Catherine listened to Edward's breathing, her head rising and falling as she rested on his chest. She had not realized it, but she missed this Englishman's flesh; the rough down of his chest against her cheek, the slick musk of his labors, the rumble of his heart inside him like the gallop of a stallion. All these things strangely comforted her as she lay curled, still bound, beside this English knight. How she wished her wrists were not tied behind her. She so wanted to run her hands over this knight's breast and cradle his sleeping form to her bosom.
Sleep eluded Catherine. It was like a songbird whose song one could hear yet cannot find its singer. She was tired and being here against Edward filled her with an ease that she had never felt before, yet the events of the night and the past few days kept her mind awake as well as the warmth stirring in her quim.
Edward stirred a bit beside her, his arm reaching around her.
"Are you awake, my dear ransom Catherine?" Edward said in his gruff French.
"Yes, Englishman, my lord, I am."
Edward smiled, his strong arms bringing the slight Catherine closer to him. The French captive looked up at Edward with her dark eyes and smiled.
"What, pray tell, are your thoughts?" he asked. His fingertips began to trace lightly over her smooth back.
"It is not my position to say, my lord. I am, by-the-by, your ransom; to do with as you will."
Edward grinned at this. The game was afoot and his coney still was baiting him. It was now a game of words with Catherine.
"And if it was my will to know your mind, dear ransom, would you then tell me?"
"I would not. I am your ransom. My flesh and my blood are yours to do with as you will, but my soul is still Gods and mine. You cannot force a thought from me just as you cannot crush milk from a butterfly, my lord."
Edward thought on this a bit. He sat up and began to untie the binding about Catherine's wrists.
"You are free to go, my butterfly."
Catherine looked in Edwards' dark hazel eyes.
"You play me a simpkin, my Englishman lord," Catherine replied.
Edward kept silent, his arms crossed across his chest.
"You know what lies for me beyond these walls of stone," Catherine continued as she stood up beside her bed.
"What, pray tell, my dear ransom Catherine, lie beyond these walls. . .your precious Mother France, whose bosom you will go to with open arms," Edward smiled as he looked upon her slender, marble-like form glistening in the morning light. A cathedral angel made flesh.
Catherine's eyes narrowed, "I need not remind you, English knight, of what evils lurk out there for one such as myself. Unescorted and without a single piece of silver to my name, I would be little but a scrap of meat amongst hungry wolves."
"A very lovely scrap, yes," Edward grinned.
"I am your ransom, English Knight," she continued, "You cannot shirk the responsibility to this. . ."
Catherine pointed to her breast, ". . .your ransom! You took me and now my life is in your hands."
The grin had disappeared off of Edward's face. Indeed, Catherine was his ransom, even though his feelings towards this fiery daughter of D'Astier were growing more binding with each hour. He was bound by the rules of war to keep his ransom safe until her ransom was paid or until it was not paid. Edward had not even sent word to Philip D'Astier letting him know that his daughter was now in the hands of one Edward de Valence. In his passions, Edward had almost forgot the reason why he had searched for Catherine in the ruins of Harfleur.
Catherine looked directly into Edward's stern, hazel eyes, "I am your ransom, my dear English knight."
Outside, the mists that clung to the gray morning like ghosts over a grave, slowly letting loose the ground. A pale sun greeted the both besiegers and the besieged. A column of smoke still cloaked the second tower from the night's fire. The men awoke and coughed and cursed and spat and itched and prepared themselves for another day, the victory of the past few days lost in the daily routine of war. Death still breathed in the smoke.
Richard had not gone to bed. He walked slowly through his retinue and though he saw their faces and heard their voices, they were like a far away tolling of a bell. His tired mind was thick with thoughts that he knew better than to have. Edward de Valance, his lord, had done much for Richard, including shedding his blood for Richard. There was nothing that Richard would not do for this man. However, this ransom of his, this raven-haired beauty, was unlike any woman he had know and the thought of her heated his loins.
Best not to think on it, Richard, thought. Another day of siege was at hand and the second tower should soon be taken.
"Life is too short, my dear Richard, to be so dark," a warm lilting Irish voice said to him.
"Margaret?" he replied.
"It looks as if you have the weight of many a catapult stone upon your brow, my dear lord sergeant," Margery smiled as she got up from her spot, an emptied keg. In her hand she cradled a ceramic mug.
"It has been a hard siege, Margaret."
"To a woman likes me, dear Richard, whose son is still carrying a sharpened sword, everyday of this cursed war is as hard as an iron helm."
Richard looked around to see if anyone had heard, "I would speak silently of this, Margery. King Harry's work here is blessed by God."
"I know, my dear Richard. At times I think this is an atonement for the sins of my flesh."
Richard hugged the redheaded washerwoman close to him and whispered, "You have been a comfort to me, Margery, more so than any stone saint staring out from a cathedral niche."
"You should not say such things, my sergeant. It is ill favored."
Richard did not smile as he looked down at Margery, "My soul is already burning and will continue to burn long after the I die."
Margery read the pain in Richard Corfes' blue eyes. She had seen it too many times before. They were the eyes of a man to whom singing arrows and slashing blades mean as much as a stroll through a meadow ripe with spring. Richard's eyes had seen too many men scream and cry and curse at their own mortal wounds. Richard did not know how to wash the blood from his hands.
"Come," she said.
Margery lead the sergeant through to a where she had made her tent, inside the skeletal remains of what was once a bake house. Now all that remained was a stone chimney and oven and a few blackened timbers. Her tent, stained and patched from many years of travel in Wales and Scotland as well as there in France, was almost as welcome sight as Richard's own home. By his hand, she pulled him inside and without a word, began to slowly undress him. With each lace she untied, every clasp she unbuckled, the weight of the world seemed to slip away from Richard. That was what a woman does best, Margery thought to herself.
It was not long before Richard's armor and weaponry lay in a pile along with his shirt and leggings. Margery's skilled fingers and palms began to caress and knead his weary muscles as he lay on her sheepskins. The lay of his back was very familiar to her. She knew the curves and ridges. She smiled at the memories of past couplings with this man whose chest was as smooth as a newborn but as solid as a hornbeam.
Margery began to undress herself and it pleased her to see the effect it always had on Richard.
It was not like with Edward, whose hunger was more of that of a hungered wolf, rather it was like that of a graceful dance of swans upon a mill pond, slow and lingering, wanting to savor each moment as it passed. Margery watched his eyes wander over her heavy breasts with their petal pink nipples and travel down the flat of her belly to her lush nest of reddish brown curls. There Richard's eyes rested as Margery walked over to the man-at-arms and cradled his head to her womb.
Richard breathed in the scent of Margery and he began to nuzzle at her soft coney. His lips met with her soft curls and, as Margery parted her slender legs, his nibbling trailed lower, caressing her quim with gentle kisses and licks.
Margery felt his warm, rough hands upon her buttocks and soon, Richard's hands and fingers began kneading her flesh and drawing her nearer to his tongue. Already, she felt his rough licks upon her swollen sex. They were like little, warm licks of flame, igniting the tinder of pleasure in her womb. She was already letting out little moans of pleasure and his tongue delved deeper within her, touching her pearl and send showers of sparks rushing through her. It was all she could do to remain standing; her fingers running through this man's straw blonde hair.
Richard guided her to lie down upon the skins and he now knelt above her, looking into her green eyes. His lips met hers and their tongues danced around each other in a slow dance. His hands now gently brushed over her pale nipples. Each touch was like a flame of bliss.
The man's warm kisses left Margery's lips and continued as he kissed her cheek and neck and shoulders. Richard's lips and tongue then caressed Margery's stiffened nipples, adding fuel to the growing fire within her. Little moans leaked from her lips. Richard's rough tongue and lips attended themselves to each of Margery's bosoms, going from to the other and then back.
And then Richard stopped.
Margery opened her eyes to look into Richard's. He gave her a slight smile before continuing his downward path of warm kisses over her smooth belly to the soft forest of curls below. Richard could smell her incense, a scent far powerful than any censers. Richard gently lifted her legs over his shoulders and rested them there before holding her hips and lifting them so that her tender folds bloomed before him.
His tongue began to trace through Margery's petals, slowly and firmly. Each lick sent more flames of bliss searing through her soul, engulfing her more and more. She tried to press her hips further to his lips, but his hands remained firm, holding her in place.
The redheads' struggles with her passion hardened Richard's ardor for this woman.
Richard stopped his attentions.
"Noooooo," Margery moaned, "Prithee, do not stop, my lord sergeant."
Richard smiled a bit as he rolled the washerwoman over. Without a word he grasped her wrist gently but firmly and began to wind a leather thong around them, binding them behind her back.
For Margery, this was unexpected from Richard, whose company varied little from coupling to coupling. This was more like lord De Valence than it was Richard, yet there was the familiar gentleness as he tied the knots around her wrists and then her crossed ankles.
He gently rolled Margery back over.
Neither Margery nor Richard said a word as they gazed at each other. Richard then bent down and kissed Margery again, this time, with a bit more heat. His tongue seeking hers out in a slow, passionate dance of Eros. His rough hands found her breasts and began kneading her stiff nipples anew. Her being helpless only threw more wood onto the passionate pyre that was growing within her. Richard's touches and caresses and nibbles on her skin fanned the flames so.
Margery moved more and more beneath him; a storm made flesh. Her wide hips bucked up at him and her kisses were born of hunger. He slipped his legs between hers and knelt above her, her bound legs embracing him; spurring him on with her heels.
Richard slid into her.
Margery felt him fill her with his swollen member, thrusting into her a feeling of wholeness and bliss that she could not hope to describe. Richard's thrusts into her were at first slow and deep. She tried to move him to a quicker pace, but he would not go but his own speed. Building in speed slowly. Her pyre of bliss was growing hotter with every push. Her moans were load and wanton and drove Richard to go faster as his own pleasure began to boil in his shaft.
Faster and faster, Margery's pyre began to erupt into pure joy as his hot seed flooded her and filled her. Roar after roar of heated bliss engulfed her until she just collapsed from being crushed under the fiery waves.
The land was not so unfamiliar. Geoffrey Potterson had foraged around Harfleur during the months of the siege and he had at least a good knowledge of its' stands of forests and its' gentle hills. The grasses were now dry and dead as he made his way towards a hut he had remembered earlier, not too far away and within sight of the ruined remains of the town. Geoffrey's mind was filled with fears as he crept through the pre-dawn fields. How would he get home to his wife and furrowed plot of land he called home? He was not a man of coin and satin. That is why he had come to France and it's promise of plunder. King Harry's war would bring more than just a few coin into his pouch. It would bring him a wealth he had never known.
Had Geoffrey had smelled the woodsmoke coming from the hut, he may have turned away. However, his nose was a gristly ruin of reddened flesh and dried blood. One of his eyes was swollen shut and he could still taste the blood from several teeth that the sow of a woman had kicked out.
Geoffrey never saw the crossbow bolt that pierced his shoulder. All he felt was a searing pain as the force of the bolt spun him around. As Geoffrey looked down at the shaft protruding from his chest, a second pierced his back.
"Arrrrrr!," Geoffry screamed as he dropped down to his knees.
"English dog!" a voice spat in French from behind dying man.
Geoffry looked around, feebly trying to draw his falchion with is blood-slicked hands. Behind him were four men-at-arms, two of them bringing to bear the crossbows they had just spanned. The others held out their blades.
The men carefully approached the whimpering Geoffry. Smiles caressed two of their faces. Geoffry had stopped trying to get at his weapon and fell onto his side. The pain was too much. He could barely breathe and blood gurgled from his breath.
"Are you from Harfleur?" one of them asked, his English words thick with French.
"Are you English?" the man asked again and again Geoffry nodded.
"We will help you if you answer a question or two, English. My surgeon is not but a few paces away and he will attend to your wounds. First, have you seen a beautiful young lady within the Harfleur's walls. Her eyes and hair are like mine, as dark as a ravens."
Again, Geoffry nodded.
"Is she still there?"
Geoffry nodded his head. The pain was branding through him and he could barely draw a breath.
"Do you know her name? Is it Catherine?" the man asked again.
"Yeahhhhhhhh," Geoffry hissed, blood gasping on his own blood.
The man nodded.
"Slit his throat," Bois D'Astier said in French and one of his men stepped over the curled Englishman and with a quick swipe, ended Geoffry's pain.
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story continues in On French Soil 11 - "To Know What Willing Ransom"