(514-04-03) Rites and Wrongs
Summary: Arian and Kamron discuss religious differences (unintentionally) on the way back from Exeter.
Date: March 3, 514
Related: In the Firelight, Scouting the Ground, and others.
arian kamron 


It is night — in fact, it is almost the witching hour. The journey home has been long, but the weather has turned pleasant as spring continues to warm toward summer. The camp had been set, and most all of its travelers are asleep. Arian de Laverstock is not. She moves silently through the camp, careful to step broadly over any possible twig that could warn the others that someone is moving about the camp in the dead of night. The dinner fire still smolders with bright embers, but there is no more flame. It barely casts light around the camp, but she manages just fine to arrive at Kamron's tent. No place to knock, she steps to the taut wall to scratch her fingers gently against the waxed canvas. "Sir Kamron?" She whispers hoarsely.

Newt is on watch at the moment, which allows Kamron (and everyone else in the camp) to actually get some sleep. Of course, the dirty Pagan wouldn't take the opportunity. Groaning softly at the sound, Kam pries open an eye, sitting up from under his cloak, his undertunic in disarray around him, "Hrm? Wha?" He turns around within the tent so that he can stick his head out of the flaps, "What's…" And there are Arian's lovely features so very close, and the knight blinks in surprise, "Rhi." Surprise filters into his low whisper, but not disappointment.

When Kamron peeks out of the tent, he is greeted with a dimpled smile and a pair bright, pale eyes. "Shh." Arian presses her forefinger against her lips as he speaks. She gestures for him to come without saying another word. She steps back from the tent, giving him space to clamber out. She waits until he is standing before sliding her warm hand into his, giving a small tug. She starts to guide him toward the edge of the camp, drawing him out to the neighboring field just beyond the copse of trees.

Kamron hesitates only a moment, and then slips out of his tent. His feet are bare, but at least he's wearing one tunic and his pants. There is something a little nervous about the man's advance, perhaps even embarrassed, but he somehow mixes that easily enough with a sincere eagerness to follow her. His steps are quiet enough, but not quite so silent as the Pagan knight. As they reach the edge of the camp, his fingers tighten on hers a moment, trying to still her advance. A moment later, Newt goes wandering by ten yards or so away, although his attention is focused outwards rather than inwards. He waits, waits, and then squeezes her hand and follows after her toward the field.

His nerves and embarrassment are felt, and empathized. She is gentle with him, as if making sure he knows there is something innocent about all this. When his hand tightens around hers, she stops immediately — she even falls back a step. She presses her shoulder lightly against his, waiting until Newt passes. She casts a shy grin over her shoulder toward him, hoping that he can read her amusement in seeing Newt wandering by. The second squeeze pushes her forward, and she draws him out into the grassy meadow. Their advance into the meadow takes them into the heart of tall grasses and budding wild flowers, until they come upon a sprawled out horse blanket sheltered. She turns to him, beaming gently. "I thought we could use a picnic," she explains, pointing to the sporatic foodstuffs she has gathered and the skin of wine.

Kamron gives her shoulder a little nudge as she stays close to him, then nods and slips after her when Newt passes, murmuring, "He takes guard duty so seriously." Seriously enough that the squire's tromping hard enough that he can still be heard a dozen paces off. The sight of the blanket in the meadow causes him to blink, then laugh softly, nodding his head, "Very romantic, My Lady Rhi." Now that their goal is in sight, he takes the lead, stepping over to the edge of the blanket and offering out his hands to help her down, "It's a lovely idea. Lovely."

Arian pinks at his compliment, and she casts one final glance toward the camp before she reaches out to take his hands with hers. Her grasp is warm despite the cool spring night, and she rubs her fingers across his knuckles. She sweeps up her skirts, lowering onto the blanket. They are not exactly out of sight, but the waxing crescent moon provides very little extra light. "I thought just some alone time would be good… before we're back near Sarum." She draws her knees up to her chest, tucking her skirts around her. Once settled, she reaches for the wineskin.

A shiver runs up Kamron's arms as the brush of warm fingers across his knuckles. He settles down himself, "I wish I had thought of it, actually. You've stolen a march on me." Leaning closely back alongside her, he leans onto his elbows, resting his shoulder against her side with a easy confidence that might actually be surprising, given how little time they've known one another. "I am a little worried about the return to Salisbury though. It will tear my heart out not to spend every waking hour at your side."

The Pagan knight leans into him as he meets shoulders with her. She turns her head into his, taking in a deep inhale of his musk and hair. Long travel is never kind to anyone's scent, but she does not seem to mind it. In fact, she seems to enjoy it. She sits up just enough to take a swallow of wine, and then offers him the skin. His confession draws her brows up in surprise. She looks out across the monochrome grass briefly while she rolls her lip between her teeth thoughtfully. "Well, there is a solution to that…" She casts him a glance, head tilted a bit.

Kamron takes the wineskin, shifting his weight a little into her to hold it idly in his left hand for a long moment, looking up at her strong features where they are washed with moonlight. He's silent for a long moment, lost in the view, and then he blinks and shakes his head, "Sorry. You said there was a solution? Besides serving together under Earl Robert through the summer? And perhaps garrison together in the winter? Visits back and forth? I can go to visit my mother's kin at Falt now and then… but it is still not every day except when we are at the Earl's service."

Arian blushes blissfully at his long, admiring stare. For a heartbeat, her eyes even avert like a proper, bashful lady. Then he speaks, drawing her eyes up to meet his once more in the soft moonlight. "Those are all good solutions." She dimples softly. "Though I was thinking of lingering in Sarum for a week, and then perhaps paying visit to your manor house, and then perhaps you can ride with me back to Laverstock, and then we can find some reason to ride back to Sarum. I'm sure we can repeat this back and forth for a while." She crosses her arm behind his back, resting her cheek into his shoulder once more.

Kamron basks in that blush as if it were the first spring sun, his smile spreading slowly across his lips. "I think my sister would be upset if I stayed in Sarum for a full week. I think I might be able to arrange a day or two, and then perhaps you and… your brother…? might come to visit us in Dinton? After all, if a lovely lady knight came a-visiting on her own, I think my dear sister would grow suspicious. To say nothing of Lysie and Deyr and the rest of the family." He finally takes a sip of the wine, then passes the skin back. "And your own brother, he won't question why you are visiting the lovely Christians of Dinton?"

The woman looks up at him with a warm smile at her lips, particularly as he starts to improve on her plan. "Okay, a day or two…" There is food to be had, but she is far too happy with warm company and wine. She accepts the wineskin back, taking a swallow from it as she considers Lainn. "Yes, I could… he wouldn't be suspicious. Hardly ever is… he has not been well since our return last fall. I think he will enjoy catching some air." Arian is wonderfully close to the Dinton, and she cannot help but turn her lips softly against his jaw and cheek in a soft kiss.

Kamron's eyebrows lift slightly at the description of the brother, concern flickering across his gaze, "Will he be…" And then her warm lips are on his cheek, and his words trail off. "Mmmm." His eyes close, and he murmurs, "Temptress." Still, his left hand rises up to caress her cheek where she is tucked in against him, "Do you think it will be enough? Stolen moments during visits and when we march north or south or wherever Earl Robert sends us?"

Arian cannot seem to disengage from his skin. Her lips glide across his jaw, and then to the corner of his mouth. Her hand lifts, pressing her hand into his opposite cheek to turn his head toward hers. "No." That word is breathed against his lips. "It will never be enough." Then she kisses him. She is slow, soft, and almost tentative as she engages with the Dinton. Her tongue shyly touches his lips through the soft exchange. Her fingers slide across his jaw and ear, finger curling against the top of his ear. When she breaks away, she breathes out a heavy exhale. "Maybe we should accept our fate…"

That continued connection between her lips and his skin draw a soft exhalation from Kamron… which immediately causes the blush to rise in his cheeks and ears. "That wasn't…" And then he turns into her kiss, his eyes dropping closed and his fingers curling against her strong jawline. The touch of her tongue to his lips causes him to shift, embarrassed by his reaction, the low sound of pleasure in his throat. When she draws away, his eyes remain closed, "…a request." Letting out a shuddering breath, her words surprise him enough that his eyes open, searching out her own, "Accept our fate? That there is only one way to get enough time together?" Even still, he can't say the word, not at the moment.

"Who said I was acquiescing to your request," Arian murmurs. When he exhales, her gaze opens knowingly to meet his own. She doesn't speak immediately, lavishing in the warmth and closeness. Then she swallows thickly. "Perhaps…" She then shakes her head, dropping her gaze slightly. "Though I would not ask that we discuss that here… or now. This is a conversation for Sarum, perhaps after several cups of hot wine." Her cheeks flush pink then, as if embarrassed. She perhaps moved too quickly, or let her imagination run too rampant. So, she focuses on the here and now, and draws the knight back into another soft kiss.

Kamron lets his fingers slip into her short hair, teasing the strands just behind her ear. "Time enough for whatever comes after, for the discussions and debate and yelling that is bound to come before that 'whatever comes.'" His voice is soft, just shy of a whisper, and he is quickly silenced by her lips. This time as he twists his lips across hers, his own tongue flickers out, testing her lips once more. The knight's breath is short in his chest when he leans back just enough to draw a slow end to the sweet kiss. "I like that too much."

"I look forward to it," Arian murmurs — perhaps without any actual understanding how right he is about what is coming their way. The kiss draws a shudder through her, and she releases a soft murmur when he ends the slow exchange. "Then why do you stop?" She curls her arm around his shoulders, starting to draw him down onto the blanket. Whatever her intentions, she is at least making sure that Newt does not see their silhouettes when he comes patroling next — that is if Kamron does not object to the entirely innocent change of planes.

The Christian knight allows himself to be pulled back, hesitating for half a heartbeat and then slipping his arm beneath her neck to tuck the woman in against his shoulder. He glances down at his own bare feet, wiggling them lightly in the evening chill, and then looks over to hers. That buys him respond to her question, the answer to which causes his cheeks and ears to nearly burn in the darkness, "Because it makes me want to go further." The words are an embarrassed hush.

Arian rests her head on his arm, ear turned against the ball of his shoulder. She casts a glance down at his toes, and then over to hers, and then back into his handsome features. She brushes her fingers across his jaw, touching his ear once more as it goes red. His confession draws a small smile on her lips. "You're not the only one." Her own confession pinks her cheeks and forehead. "I just want to…" Her words falter, and her blush deepens to a soft red.

Kamron nods slowly, "I… may have figured that." His fingers stroke her cheek, feeling the flushed skin, and then drop back to his side. "Which may also be some of the reason to want it." Fighting his blush, he glances down to the lady curled up alongside him, "You are a very desirable woman, Rhi. You know that, right?"

Arian's eyes close slightly at the caress to her cheek. She releases a soft sigh of satisfaction that only sinks her further against him. Her eyes remain open and settled on him, watching him with a small smile. Then she looks away, shyly. "No… I don't… there was one Imbolc where I felt like that… but, you have countered my self-consciousness since day one, haven't you?" She curls even closer to him, drawing herself up against his side.

"Countered? No, I simply ignored it as unfounded and foolish." Kamron's grin is soft and crooked alike, and then he presses his lips to her hair, "I've come to the decision that Pagan boys are as foolish as Pagan girls are mysterious and desirable." His voice stays at a whisper to avoid tipping off the squires meandering about the campsite, "It's a decision that has taken me some time to get to, and I'm certain that it will stand up under intense scrutiny and study."

The blushing Pagan curls even closer against her Christian amor at his whispering words. She smiles brightly — as if trying to outshine the stars twinkling above them in a giant swatch of glowing pinpoints. Arian rests her hand gently at his chest, feeling the thump of his heart beneath her palm. "It is… wonderful… to be desired." Her dimples deepen. "And I continue to be impressed by your Christian virtues." There is a soft, wonderful playfulness in her whispering words.

Kamron closes his eyes as she curls up next to hip, shifting his hips slightly to twist anything important away from her far too delightful curl. "God give me strength." It's half a prayer and half a response to her words. His left hand crosses his body to brush her cheek lightly, and he lowers his brow to hers, a soft, easy smile on his lips. "Wonderful, but not exactly easy, is it?"

When Kamron twists slightly away from her, Arian's smile curves impishly. She keeps her cheek pressed against his shoulder, and hand at his chest. When his fingers come to her cheek, her eyes close slightly. Her brow meets his with a light pressure, and her nose brushes across his. "No…" Then she rolls her lip between her teeth, and offers a small, nervous smile. "Have… have you ever actually…?"

Kamron blushes at her question, hesitating for a long moment before he actually responds, "Yes." There's a little shame in the response, and he clears his throat quietly, "Twice." This time there is a different discomfort to his shifting, very nearly squirming. "I'm… not exactly proud of it." There's a pause, and then he blinks, drawing back just a little so that he can open his eyes to study her moon-drenched features, "You haven't…?"

When the knight confesses, Arian actually looks a touch surprised — but more at the shame than the actual confession. She brushes her fingers cross his jaw, soothing him gently. "I don't mind," she murmurs softly. But then he is leaning back and studying her, and his almost question draws a faint frown to her lips. "I…" She dips her chin slightly, looking down at the blanket they rest on. "Yes." The word is whispered. "At the Beltane rites. I was the Maiden… it was about five years ago…" Her eyes lift, waiting almost with a tight chest for his reaction.

The soothing helps… a little. It does not assuage his Christian guilt, but at least he knows that she doesn't mind. And then she makes her own admission, and Kamron's brows lift sharply, "The Maiden?" Confusion reigns for a long moment, and then understanding dawns, "But only at the start. Not at the end." There is more than a little horror in his voice, although oddly enough, not disgust. Pulling himself up onto his right arm so that he is half-risen up above her, he frowns down at her silvered face, anger coming into that horror in his whisper, "You were forced?"

Arian has never felt embarrassed or even ashamed by her role some five years ago, but something in Kamron's tone causes her heart to beat quicker in her chest. When he starts to sit up, she almost does the same. She is only stopped when he asks that anger-infused question, and she quickly shakes her head. "No… no…" She reaches up for his cheek again, but stops just shy of his jaw. She settles for clasping both hands together at her chest. "It was a great honor, Kam… the Maiden Goddess holds a great significance in the Beltane rites. I was not forced."

There's a heartbeat when it almost seems that Kam will draw back from her outstretched hand, for all his rigid control. His right hand still rests at the back of her neck, but he is up on his elbow now, his brows drawn down as he struggles to process what his amor is telling him. "An honor? To be…?" Shaking his head a little, he shifts at her side, "That's…" he's struggling not to be insulting to her religion, struggling with words like 'perverse' and 'unconscionable,' but he settles on, "…wrong," which isn't a whole lot better.

Arian is struggling with each change of his face, halt in his words. Then he says it, and everything about her deflates into the horse blanket. She sits up fully, turning away from his touch as she feels a sudden sting of tears at her eyes. Her eyes lift to the starry skies where the Crone Moon hangs old and weathered in the black sky. She then shakes her head. "I…" She draws her legs in toward her as she quickly brushes her palms under her eyes. "I don't even know what to say." She smiles, but there isn't a hint of mirth in the expression. Just hurt.

Kamron should probably be worrying about Newt and the other squire on watch, but instead he leans forward as she sits up away from him. "I'm not trying to insult you, Rhi." He keeps his voice to a hush, "I… I mean…" now he's doing his own impression of his squire, stuttering instead of his usual eloquence. "I know that your religion is at least as important to you as mine is to me. It just seems wrong to force…" and then he corrects himself, "…to expect, a young woman to give up her virginity in a religious right. It's… it's something I don't understand."

"And why did you give up yours?" Arian says, a sudden flurry of anger touching her words. "At least I surrendered mine as part of something sacred and honored, and I did it with joy and…" She draws her hands tighter together within her skirts. She looks away — part in anger, part in shame, and part in hurt. She breathes in deeply, drawing her shoulders back. Before she can change her mind, she starts to get to her feet.

The anger is a surprise, for all that it shouldn't be, considering Kamron's own earlier anger. "I'm…" his first response, 'I'm a man,' is obviously wrong, and so he bites it back. He considers for a long moment, reaching out with his right hand to touch her wrist, a silent plea to stay. "Because I was young and foolish and I could. I am ashamed of my actions, which is part of why it puzzles me that you are proud of yours." There is… perhaps oddly… no judgment in that statement but rather concern and honest puzzlement.

The Pagan halts at the touch, and she slowly and reluctantly returns to her seat. She casts a glance toward the dark camp, and then back at Kamron. She does not seem content to be close, or to touch the Christian, but she does as he silently pleas. With her arms around her knees, she looks back up toward the Crone Moon. She breathes in deep, trying to ground herself back with the earth. "To be chosen to be the Maiden… or Lugh, or Gwynn ap Nudd… they are honors." She tries to keep her voice at a hush, but it rises now and then, only to be swallowed back down to a whisper. "I'm sorry that I'm not a pure Christian girl… if that is what you want, then I'm sure you can find what you seek elsewhere."

Kamron lets his hand drop when she stops her retreat, settling back onto his bare heels and resting his hands on his thighs. He starts to respond to the talk of honors, but she has more to say, and he lets her finish, a look of pain crossing his features as she does. There is a crackle of brush from back by the camp, but Kamron ignores it entirely, his blue-gray eyes intent on her features. "I have never felt for another what I feel for you, Arian." At least that is in the present tense. "This would be distinctly easier if you were a good Christian girl." There is one different word there, and it is given a little teasing weight, despite the seriousness behind the discussion. "But that is not who you are. Not who the one I love is."

Arian looks away at his words, perhaps because tears now flow freely down her cheeks. If all the things there is to be ashamed of tonight, a weeping knight is certainly one of them. So she looks at the stars, and away from Kamron. "But you are disappointed." She searches the bright heavens as she speaks. "Even though it was in the throes of faith, and that I have never indulged again… you are disappointed." She starts to laugh — a tight, tired laugh. She finally reaches for the wineskin again, and takes another deep swallow of the sharp drink.

Those tears claw at Kamron's heart, and he shifts in his kneel, stifling the urge to move forward and wrap her in his arms, an urge that he is not sure would be appreciated just now. "No…" And then his honest wins out, and he looks down, sighing a little, "Yes. To my shame, I am disappointed." Reaching up to rub at the back of his own neck, he waffles a moment, and then admits, "I… I had hoped that some day I might be your first."

His first admission draws her brows up, but his true confession causes her to nod slowly. Arian does not respond, looking away toward the camp. She is thoughtful, but only for a moment. She uses the edge of her skirt to wipe at her face, dashing away the tears and drying her face. She offers him a small smile. "You will be my first, Kam," she says in a hush. "Because of the love I have for you… whatever honor I have for that May Day five years ago does not mean that I loved my counterpart."

Kamron isn't looking at anything that the lift of her skirt's hem might reveal. He very carefully isn't looking, because he's already red from neckline to the tips of his ears due to his admission. He's going to have to get over that at some point. He pats at his waist, but he's not wearing his beltpouch — or his belt — and so is without any sort of cloth to pass to her. Tentatively, he reaches out his right hand, looking to rest it on her left, still struggling for the right words to say.

When his hand touches hers, she drops her gaze down to the connection. Arian hesitates a moment, and then turns her hand over to twist her fingers up with his. She squeezes gently. The woman just sits there, holding gently onto Kamron's hand and listening to the soft noises of the night, combined with any noises that come from camp. The breeze tickles at the back of her neck, and moves her loose hair about her face. Very gently, her fingertips start to brush across his knuckles, inciting that soft jolt of bioelectricity between them.

Kamron is also watching the reaction of her hand to his own, and some tension releases from his shoulders, his eyes turning back up to her fair features. His left hand comes up, brushing some of her hair back behind her ears. With only a single tunic on, the wave of gooseflesh running up his arms from the caress on his knuckles is clear in the moonlight. "There's a lot that I don't understand, and some that I won't like, but everything is part of you." There's a little smile on his lips, "And I kind of love you."

The brush of his hand across his cheek to tuck away her hair draws a soft smile across her lips. Her eyes drop slightly to admire the gooseflesh — and perhaps even take some pride in it. Then he speaks, and she lifts her eyes to his once more. Her throat tightens a bit at first, but then the smile and light words does cause her to relax once more. "Kind of?" Her brows arch slightly.

"It wouldn't do to give you a big head." Kam still looks vaguely disquieted, but at least that little smile remains, to say nothing of his words. "But yes, rather a lot, in fact." His fingers shift to the other side of her face, brushing back another wave of dark, moon-struck hair, and then caressing her other cheek with his knuckles. "Rather distractingly so, actually. You know that I started thinking about how soft your lips were when you first kissed my cheek, started thinking about it right after we started riding in the morning, and then the next thing I knew, we were stopping for lunch."

Arian almost senses the disquiet, so she spares him her nature. When he caresses her cheek, she lowers her gaze once more. His words draw a soft pink blush to her cheeks. "You were often so cordial, I wasn't sure if you appreciated such forwardness." She then breathes out a sigh, drawing his hand from his cheek. She kisses his knuckles softly and then settles it in her lap. She lapses into silence, brushing her fingertips across his knuckles as she looks down at their joined hands.

Kamron lets his eyes close at the press of her lips to his knuckles. "It surprises me at times. Shocks me a little." His lips curve up at one corner, "I think that I'm getting used to it." There's another rustle of brush from a squire passing on his circuit of the camp, and then Kam gives her a little squeeze of her fingers and lays back again, pulling lightly at her hand to draw her down with him. "It's not anything I'm used to, even at Court." That is to say, away from the even-more-up-tight Christian paradise that is Dinton.

Arian is drawn back onto the blanket beside him without fuss or resistance. Though they are nearly back where they started, she knows there is still a discomfort around them at their confessions. She draws an arm under her head, using it as a pillow as she observes the skies above. She casts a glance his way at his words of Court. "I don't often go to Court… not when gathered, at least. Or, if I do… I find a quiet corner to hide in." Which might be why Kamron has never seen her there.

Letting his head down onto the blanket, Kamron keeps his right hand entwined with her left. "Some knights just don't like Court. Coe, for instance. I pulled his foot out of his mouth more times than I can count." He pauses, "Not literally, of course." He squeezes her fingers lightly, then tilts his head over to study her, "So why don't you like Court, Rhi?" Much safer ground than religion. At least, theoretically.

Arian does not look toward him right away, her gaze following the arching arm of the Milky Way. Then she looks over toward him with a slight shrug of her shoulders. "I have never been comfortable… even in my youth. You make me feel beautiful, Kam… but that is not always how I have felt. I hope you understand that… I have always felt a bit ugly around the Ladies of my household, so I don't enjoy a whole court of those lovely women." She offers a wane smile.

Kamron's smile takes on a softer touch then, and he brings up their joined hands so that he can press her knuckles to his lips. "And that is the cruelest blow they could have given you, Rhi, banishing your own confidence in your beauty." He draws in his bare left foot, his knee rising up as he bends the leg. "Because you are beautiful, and not just for your strength and confidence."

The Pagan turns toward him as he speaks. She offers a small smile at his words, and her cheeks color faintly. "I'm sure most did not mean it…" Then she ducks her chin a bit, almost shy, though her smile has gone a bit impish. "Yes, you have spoken to such things before," she says with a soft laugh. Then she rolls up closer to him, resting her head against his shoulder once more as her body curves into his.

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