A Promise

The Nave of the Sacred Heart
Polished pews of sturdy oak line the sides of the cathedral’s nave, separated by a pathway of cobalt stones. Columns of white granite stand at even intervals between the windows, a small shrine is carved into each, housing exquisite statues of saints and martyrs. The vaulted ceiling of the nave soars high with chandeliers of burnished copper hanging from each vault, lit only for evening masses and eulogies. On the ground, tall candelabras of thick beeswax candles light the carpeted steps towards the prayer altar, The wide stone sills of the stained glass windows are decorated with small fluted bowls of bluish glass, heaped with flowers. The atmosphere is peaceful, touched with a hint of olden charm and a love for which only divine grace could bestow. A spiral of iron-lattice steps wind up in a precarious helix into the church’s main spire where the church’s bells are kept.

Darkness creeps together with the pale-haired, tall man as he stands alone outside in the empty church grounds – long devoid of people as the last Mass for that night ended and the only brief interim he would stand here unmolested before the next next round of guard patrol happens again.

A small, lighted lantern sways in the distance, heralding the approach of a young Sister, her head encased in a habit and the rosary about her neck dances in a cheery manner. She spies the tall man and out and of benign curiosity, she goes to him, inquiring in a soft, girlish voice of what he is waiting for. The reply is given in quiet courtesy and as strangely as it seems, the Sister’s brown eyes glaze a little and with a tiny mote of a welcome smile on her face, she walks the tall pale man towards the doors of the Church, opening them for him to enter. He does not do so however, at first and leans in to whisper one more time to the Sister’s habit-covered ear, another question, the act done so formally and gentlemanly there is little suspicion about what he’s doing.

The young woman retracts a little and turns to peer into the hazy darkness of the Nave, illuminated by candlelight and shards of moon glow before lifting up her face towards the tall man and nodding, her lips parting to form a little remark. The pale-haired one nods in gratitude before slipping into the Church as silently as a shadow would, and the Sister closes the doors with a soft ‘clack’, audible to whomever is there upon the pews.

Within, amidst the rows of deserted pews, slender fingers curl into the palm of a young woman, the hand it belongs to rests peacefully against her heart as her chest rises and falls in a steady rhythm of slumber. The lighting was sparse within the Nave, casting a soft glow upon her relaxed features, yet still enough to see clearly that clutched inside that grip is the crucifix she is seldom found without. In her lap rests a journal, its open pages revealing rows of neat penmanship and the appearance of newly applied ink.

Anique stiffens suddenly as a sound brings her awake rather suddenly, her body tensing visibly. Her eyes open quickly and she scans the room curiously as straightens up in her seat. Already a knot had begun to form in her lower back from slumbering in such a position. Rising from the pew in a fluid motion, her skirts fall about her in voluminous folds and with them, the audible sound of her journal tumbling to the polished floor at her feet. The sound seems to echo in the otherwise empty church and the sound of her surprised ‘oh’ follows.

Hastily she kneels to retrieve her parcel, her fingers skimming over the spine to make sure it is intact and frowns as she realizes her blunder in falling asleep.

The tall pale-haired fellow walks down the aisle of the Nave, his boots making muted little stepping sounds on the tiles. Both his hands are shoved into the deep pockets of his black velvet coat and a darkened green gaze is fixated upon the back of the sleep-nodding girl at one of the pews, the familiarity of her back and the way her tresses fall down and about her shoulders. He pauses at one of the pews, perhaps five or so behind hers and with one knee knelt and one hand cupping the pew’s engraved crocus top, the pale man inclines his head towards the grand statue of the rose-wreathed angel upon the altar before standing up straight, his hands once more wandering into the coat’s pockets.

The girl’s falling journal and her startled wakening from her nap draws only yet but a brevity of a sickened smile on his lips. He starts to walk, sufficiently to come into the girl’s view, his stature splaying multiple shadows across the tiled mosaics of the Nave’s floor before quite absurdly, he leans his form against the pew opposite hers, his head canting to a side.

A chill makes its way down Anique’s spine as she finally takes note of someone else. Her eyes watch with a reluctant uncertainty as the shadows play across the floor in the corner of her eye, finally to fall across the open pages of her journal where her gaze remains fixated. A person of manners might have made their presence known quite some time earlier instead of walking upon an unsuspecting person such as this one had.

Instinctively, perhaps by the way her entire body responded in a frightening hum, she knew without glancing up. Almost as if Anique cannot help herself however, her blue-green gaze begins its rise of the figure before her. Her fingers tighten upon the pages as the familiar manner of dress greets her vision, until her eyes rest upon Christian’s visage – her own paling in response, though her lips this stubbornly as she refuses to flee from the mere sight of him. The tilt of his head might have been endearing upon any other person.

“M’lord” Anique greets upon an expelled breath as she slowly rises, the journal and her quill closed within its pages held in one hand.

A soft rustling of linen slacks shudders through the dead silence before Anique’s greeting as the pale man moves barely from his position, the smile cast upon his lips meager in expression.

“You appear afraid to see me, fraulein.” He tells her in a tone one might perhaps associate with regret and a semblance of forced grief woven into it. Hands leave their territorial grip of his coat’s pockets and lift upwards to spread in this helpless, emphatic manner towards Anique, the flickering candlelight glinting off the silvery cuff-links and the plain metal rings on his fingers. “Although I doubt much about whether you have found peace within His House, perhaps let me know of your decision whether to return or that you wish to go home?”

The question ends. The silence ensues once more and his green eyes richly verdant like a grass-soaked lawn now lands upon her face; there seems no hint of a threat now in his voice now and just a soothing, velvety darkness, which twines like an invisible serpent around his words.

Her eyebrows pull together in thought, confusion mingled with a sort of inner refusal to be drawn in by that gaze. Her head shakes just slightly, auburn tresses are illuminated by the candlelight, as she pulls her eyes away from his, drawing the journal in close to her and holding it in a protective gesture.

“I recall being told to feel such,” Anique responds to his first remark, proud that her voice did not waver but came out firmly, reminding him that the event was still fresh within her thoughts. Her glance fixes upon the open gesture of his hands and from there rise to his face once more as the sound of his voice draws a curious gleam to her eye.

“Why are you here? Perhaps I did not run far enough for your liking and you wish to finish?” Her tone is not harsh as the words themselves would otherwise be. “I am a simple being, if you wish me to leave you have but to say so.”

An expression shuttles across Christian’s features, the look on his face seems to be one of a man being stung by the barbed words only a woman is capable of flinging. It is with faint recollection of his own noble upbringing and that the etiquette of humanity seems remembered for this instant over centuries of unlife.

“Such harshness, fraulein.” He answers to her, his eyes drawing some reference of strength from the shadows cast down by the wings of the marble angel on the altar before green oculars dwell with a contemplating slowness on Anique.

“I will not have you leave; I have come to apologize.” He continues, hands bared towards her, akin to the spread of wings upon the Angel’s back, his own shadows cutting into the seraph’s own on the tiled floor. Simplicity entreats simplicity, Christian thinks, ruminating a little and that within His House, the pale man would not utter even a threat despite his non-reverence of this Faith held so highly by mortals, and yet served well his fellowship.

Anique’s eyes widen slightly at his response. She was strangely intrigued by his seeming return to normal and wondered exactly what had brought about the anger she’d witnessed the other night. Likewise, she immediately feels remorse for her own stinging questions, and revealed so in the change of her expression. “It appears I owe you an apology as well.” She responds.

Her mind was working however as the words slipped from parted lips. A half smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, a gesture of grudges that should not be held. She notes his hands opened in such a position and she takes several steps toward Christian, her gaze moving across the planes of his face as if trying to gauge his sincerity and deciding not to trust at all. She would find the answer.

The moonlight touches the stained glass of the long arched windows, flecking them with silver.

The pale fellow holds up his hands against her approach; perhaps to depict a negative reaction to her apology – that Christian believes she owes nothing or that she is asked to still her movements towards him.

“Fraulein, you must not apologize. The fault is entirely my own.” He says, a touch of ironical amusement and wan sincerity in his tone though that his expression nearly cracked somewhat but he manages to recompose himself, having sensed just a movement of shadows behind him.

/Elizabeth/. He grimaces inwardly – she is watching, of course in her comfortable little abyss, obviously. Why wouldn’t she watch? She’s so interested in this whole little dramatic escapade that it seems to be the only joy in her own unlife.

“Would you return to the bookshop then?” Now Christian lays his hands down, the drawing down of fingers artfully interweaving a symphony of shadow and moonlight on the Nave’s floor and those fingers draw behind his back – a gesture of openness towards Anique, and a hidden warning of primal irritation to the hidden Elizabeth. “Would you? I will make up for it, my unanswerable anger, fraulein, as a good gentleman should.”

Anique’s movements do still at his gesture, her hands clasping the book behind her as she stands a few feet before Christian, her eyebrows arching ever so slightly at his words. She responds sincerely, her eyes averted momentarily as she speaks. “No one has ever treated me in such a way, put their hands on me, threatened me, made me question my beliefs as you have.”

Glancing up at him briefly, a moments caress, and she turns to the pew she had occupied previously and places her journal there. Her now freed hands idly twisting her hair over one shoulder, leaving her other bare. Christian didn’t need her, Anique mused, so why was he bothering?

“You’ve apologized and I thank you for that. The truth is, I enjoy the work and I was not looking forward to returning home to the smug expression of my brother.” Chewing her lip, she considers her words before continuing. She was asking for trouble, she knew it. Anique casts a wary glance at him and nods her head in acceptance.

“I’m either a fool or a saint – The first being more likely.”

“The acceptance puts relief to my mind, fraulein.” The pale-haired man inclines his head, the flaxen strands of his hair winding down his neck. His hands are removed from their clasp and shoved back into his coat’s pockets before he elicits himself from the lean-to against the pew. Green eyes shift in a leisurely motion towards the journal she has placed upon the pew before they turn again to regard Anique, the expression in the viridian irises very pleasant.

“I will do no such thing again to put your mind at unease and that you may continue to work peacefully in the bookstore.” He seems to consider something in his mind as he steps away, creating a distance between him and the auburn-haired girl. “I am not to judge whether you are foolish or a saint in this, fraulein. I am just your employer and I will stay that way, with promise.”

He gives her a little bow, the shadowy touch of his tall stature mingling with her shorter one upon the Nave’s tiles and with fleeting softened steps, the pale-haired man dismisses himself from the church, wandering out from the doors as easily as he had came in earlier.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License