Monday, October 11, 2010

Give Me Your Heart, and I'll Give You Mine

Gethin stood at the edge of the graveyard. He felt a hand on his arm; Rhiannon was standing beside him.

“You shouldn’t be here, Cadfael will be furious,” she whispered.

“To hell with Cadfael!” he replied, louder than he should, staring at a tall, regal man lingering next to the grave.

Cadfael turned towards them, a look of hateful recognition covering it. He whispered to his servant, and then returned his gaze towards the open grave. The servant ambled up to Gethin.

”He wants you to leave, Gethin; he says you’ve no business being here.”

“I have every business being here.”

Gethin started to move towards the grave; the man blocked his way.

“Let her go, lad. Anwen wasn’t your wife, she belonged to him. Nothing can change that.”

“She’s no longer his wife. Death has parted them. She belongs to me again.”

Gethin turned and left the graveyard, the muffled sound of earth falling in his ears.

Gethin poured over the book, doing his best to decipher the words and symbols. His grandmother had known what they all meant, had taught him some of the spells before she died. There was one she had warned him about. She said it would hold the greatest temptation, the spell to bring the dead back to life. He found the incantation near the end of the book. He needed several items; a lock of the deceased’s hair, an article of clothing, a prize possession of the loved one. As he got to the end of the ritual he realized the bottom of the page was torn away. He didn’t know how the incantation ended. No matter, he thought, once Anwen was alive again they would leave this place and start a new life elsewhere. He reached into his shirt and gently touched the silver locket that rested against his heart. It had been a present to Anwen from Cadfael; she in turn had given it to Gethin the night before she married Cadfael.

“He may have my body, but you’ll always have my heart. Always. And I’ll always have yours.”

She had whispered those words to him as he took her for the last time, his tears of grief mingled with her cries of passion. She married Cadfael the next morning, not the prized virgin he had anticipated. Cadfael was furious to find she’d all ready been plucked; he beat her without mercy, trying to get her to confess the name of her lover. She remained silent, until her wedding dress became her death shroud.

Gethin returned to the graveyard around midnight. Clouds hid the moon, giving him cover from curious eyes. He looked at Anwen’s grave, then removed his shirt and began to dig. It took nearly two hours to reach her coffin. He brushed aside the remaining dirt, and then took a crowbar to open the lid. He bent down and gently lifted her bridal veil, then cried out in horror at what he saw. Anwen’s beautiful face was bruised and bloodied, her lips swollen; hand prints encircled her throat.

“You worthless bastard!"

He dropped into the coffin and lay on top of his beloved once more. He cried for almost an hour. Finally he put his arms around Anwen, and lifted her body out of the grave. He climbed out and collected the spell book. It was getting late; he was running out of time.

He began the ritual, saying the necessary words, placing the belongings on Anwen’s chest. He got as far as the book allowed and waited. Nothing. He looked over the spell again; he’d done everything exactly as written. He was about to collapse in grief when he heard a cold, sinister laugh behind him. It was Cadfael.

“So you were the one to beat me to her maiden head? I should have known. That worthless whore. Ever so eager for money and prestige and even more eager to lay down with swine.”

Gethin fought to control his anger.

“You bastard! What did you do to her? Wasn’t it enough to have her as your wife? Wasn’t it enough that you had her body?”

Cadfael smile was cruel as he walked towards the open grave.

“When I make an acquisition, I expect it to be delivered intact, and expect to have possession of all of it. But perhaps you were speaking of this?”

Cadfael reached into a bag. Gethin gasped as he saw its contents: Anwen’s once beating heart. Gethin moved towards the source of all his pain, determined to exterminate it from his life forever, when he heard a noise behind him, Both men turned towards the noise, both stepped back in horror at what they saw.
Anwen stood before them. She looked at each of them, and then slowly began to move towards Cadfael, her arm out stretched.

“That does not belong to you, dearest husband. My heart belongs to Gethin, and to no other. GIVE IT BACK TO ME!”

Cadfael recoiled, incoherent cries escaping from his throat. He placed Anwen’s heart in her hand, and stepped back. He fell backwards into her open grave and landed on the crow bar, the blunt metal impaling him. Gethin spat into the grave; to Hell with him, he thought.

Gethin looked at Anwen. Slowly he moved closer, until he could touch her long black hair.

“It’s time to leave, Anwen.”

Anwen looked at him, and then placed her heart in Gethin’s hands.

“Oh my darling” she whispered sadly. “You’ll always have my heart. And now I must have yours.”

Her hands shot out quickly, one grabbing Gethin by the neck, the other plunging into his chest, cracking bone as she wrapped her fingers around his heart. The last thing Gethin was aware of was two tiny tears sliding down Anwen's cheek.

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