She has spurned him in a most grievous way,
rejecting him at the altar, running away with the man
He most despises.
His handsome face bears the scar of her betrayal.
Cut by the very ring he had slipped on her finger.
He hates her; he loves her.
He wants her to hurt as much, as deeply as she has hurt him.
“Beg!” He commands, the anger contorting his face,
Eyes turned dark with emotion, rage in his deep voice,
His words, his gaze, cut right through her as the flames arise.
She thinks she can toy with him, tease him,
With beseeching eyes and honeyed words, the softest caress
of his arm; it gave him hope, it brought him light–
But “a man like me” will endure her games no longer.
She has rejected him before the world; she will fool him no more.
And yet she does not give up, this high-born lady.
She has a mind of her own, a stubborn will;
No constraints on her freedom will she accept,
Chafing at the unseen shackles now placed upon her,
A captive in a castle, a prisoner in Milord’s cage.
And so she comes to his home, wrapped in the cloak of night,
With beseeching eyes and honeyed words, and is surprised–
For she sees the well-knit man free of his leather armour
The fair, smooth skin burnished in the firelight;
She does not know until now a man could be—beautiful.
“Friendship,” she offers, extending a near-trembling hand,
her heart hammering in her chest as he draws closer to her.
“Freedom,” he answers with a twisted smile, his eyes—those eyes!
Boring into her very soul as his broad hand clasps her small one.
“Friendship—is impossible now. You’ve made that clear.”
Let there be no bad blood, she has said; let bygones be bygones . . .
He hates her; he loves her.
“Have you heard of the power of firelight?” A husky rumble.
“While the fire burns, time stands still. What happens is secret.
Words and deeds, all that occurs, remain hidden to the world . . .”
He draws her closer to the fire, to the flame, ever closer,
Until they both kneel before it, skin bathed in its glow,
“Tell me of your dreams, milady, and I will tell you of mine . . .”
And as she begins to speak, slowly and hesitantly, her guard drops
She leans against that broad shoulder, and sighs.
As he talks of the pain and losses of his past, she looks into the fire
And sees a boy looking back out at her, miserable and alone.
She did not know how much he had suffered; she had never asked.
“I have no one,” he says simply, quietly, with a shrug.
And at that moment, the proud lady’s heart breaks just a little.
She extends her hand again, and takes his, and bows her dark head.
Speaking not a word, she tenderly presses her lips to his hand,
And when she lifts her head, he sees the glistening in her eyes . . .
“I fear I have—misjudged you in some ways, Sir Guy.”
And there is hope and light again for him.
He swallows hard, his fingers seeking out her tousled raven curls,
His touch, gentle, as he rises and lifts her to her feet.
“It is late, milady, and you must return to the castle . . .”
He clasps her hand tightly in his own, eyes beseeching her;
“Will you come back, and visit—in the firelight?”
She smiles. “I shall.”
His heart sings.
(Screencaps from RANet. Poem inspired by the beautiful film Firelight, and the chemistry between Richard and Lucy as Sir Guy and Marian. If only . . .)