The wedding felt grand, and Melkin could only compare it to Maelgwyn’s wedding two years earlier. But then again the bride then had been the older sister of lady Mairwen, Melkin’s newly wedded wife. Thankful that he had met (or at least seen) many of his wife’s relatives Melkin actually remembered many of their names, and felt that he was doing a good job greeting them. He drank with moderation, stole glances at the young woman next to him and smiled at jeers from fellow knights and his friends.
His wife spent many hours in deep conversation with her sister lady Sian and the two women giggled sometimes glancing at him. Melkin did ask once what they were laughing about but didn’t receive any coherent answer. He looked at Maelgwyn, who shrugged at their wives’ strange behaviour. Releasing the thought Melkin instead amused himself by imagining his wife undressed in his bed.
A disturbance in the hall caught his attention, as two men arguing loudly suddenly stood up. He recognised sir Edyin and rose slowly. The other man was a distant relative to Melkin in his own age, Tiberius, he thought vaguely. They were shouting now drawing the attention of everyone around them. Some were rooting them on.
“Friends,” called Melkin managing to catch the two men’s attention with the anger in his voice, “surely you do not intend to fight in my hall on this special day.” He put his knuckles on the table before him. “I would consider it a breach of hospitality.”
The commotion died down then, but Melkin saw how sir Edyin glared at the other man with vengeance in his eyes. He didn’t have time to think of it any further, because then two seats from him lady Sian suddenly fainted.
Lady Mairwyn had been distraught for months, and Melkin was at a loss as to what to do. Lady Sîans death after the wedding, and possibly the pregnancy was making Mairwyn overly sensitive, and she would start crying sometimes even from laughing. In the end Melkin asked his mother to talk to the poor girl while he went to Sarum on business.
He saw the other girl as he entered the castle. Blond, curly hair and piercing blue eyes as of those of a cat made her instantly stand out in the crowd, and her figure made him cock his head intrigued. During his visit he looked for the woman, but didn’t find her alone until a couple of days later.
“Should a young maid like you really be wondering off alone in these parts of the castle,” he asked trying to sound confident.
She snorted at him.
“You’re not that old yourself, knight,” she added with a bit of acid to the word.
“And feisty,” Melkin added piqued, “are you avoiding your duties? Maybe looking for adventure?”
“If I were,” she said and raised one eyebrow, “ you would be the last person at this castle I would tell, sir Hindon.”
Slightly taken aback that she knew his name, Melkin tried to get back into whatever game they were playing.
“If it’s adventure you’re looking for,” he smiled. “I know many secret places within the castle.” He thought of his and Cadry’s hidden space in one of the pantries where they had had many secret discussions. “Would you like to see my hidden compartment?”
As he uttered the words a knight rounded the corner catching sight of them, and Melkin realised that he had been close enough to catch what he’d just said.
“ What is going on here?!” barked the man who bore a disturbingly close resemblance to the young woman.
Nerving himself, Melkin managed somehow to smile.
“I was just telling your sister about the hidden compartment me and my brother used to sneak off to when we where squires. I did it more often you see,” he continued turning to the young woman once more. “After a peculiar feast four years ago the steward took a liking to me and laid all spare chores in my lap.”
The knight suddenly looked unsure, the girl looked bored, and Melkin felt sweat dripping down his back.
“Are you sir Melkin,” said the knight looking at the scar on Melkin’s neck seeming to forget about his suspicion.
“Sir boring, is what he is,” stated the girl, but her brother ignored her.
“Sir, I was looking for you, I have grave news! A cousin of yours has been killed!”
“ Killed?! Who?”
“ I think his name was Tiberius…?”
Melkin did neither feel angry, nor sorrow. He felt numb.
“Not again,” was the only thing that he managed to say.
The mother was sleeping, and the babe was lying in her arms. Mairwyn would not let any other woman feed him or tend to him. She was spellbound by little Brynach in a way that Melkin had a hard time to understand. She loved their boy dearly, and so did he, but Brynach seemed to be saving Mairwyn from her grief somehow.
He picked up the child, and managed it without waking the exhausted mother. Stepping outside into the night he looked upon the boy’s face in the light of the full moon.
“Well aren’t you peaceful,” he said conversationally to the child. “You wouldn’t believe it during the day. You have lungs that makes your father proud, you know.”
He fell silent and eyed the babe sceptically.
“Will you grow strong though, or sickly?” he chuckled. ”Or will you take as heavy a beating as your father does in battle? Ah, I know, I try to be cautious, but I can be quite rash.”
Pausing Melkin watched as the child moved a little.
“And now the lady of crows has called,” Melkin sighed but smiled, “I don’t know what that means, but I’ll tell you all about it when I return from it. However,” he paused again, “I do wish I hadn’t given away saint Alban’s fingerbone. ”