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Gilnean Honey
#1
There's a wild, wild whisper blowin' in the wind callin' out my name like a long lost friend. Oh, I miss those days as the years go by; Oh, nothin' sweeter than summertime.

During Chardonay Blackwood's youth, the end of summer marked the culmination of weeks of labor in the fields that were rewarded by feasts and folly. She'd spend days in the kitchen with her mother, baking cobblers, roasting boar and canning vegetables. It was her favorite time of year and her fifteenth will always be the one she remembers. One night in particular remains a source of joy and sorrow for the young widow.

"Char' y'kno 'ow I feel." True, she did know just by the way his green eyes always took her in, admiring her olive skin and dark hair. That look melted her heart and turned her stomach into a dance of butterflies. Still, she was raised proper and she wasn't about to be charmed over a midnight picnic. It'd take much more than sultry looks, strong arms and the pale moonlight to get a Barry girl.

"Radford Blackwood, don' you try to charm me just because the moon is high and we are all alone." Her words like always were stern, but her affection for the red bearded man ran deep. And as she cut into the cherry cobbler that would become his favorite, she purposefully gave him a look of her own. She knew the Blackwood's coveted her family's cherry orchard and she relished every opportunity she had to show the eldest son what he lacked. "Eat your cobbler. I made it fresh from a bundle picked just yesterday." He couldn't argue with that, the Barry cherries were the plumpest, juiciest cherries near the Blackwald. Most around there figured it was due to the foreigner's secret ways, Chardonay's father being a non-native to Gilneas. But really, the techniques used in the Barry orchards were deeply rooted in old magics and naught to do with the man, but his wife.

"Ah, as propa as y'are I nev' be good 'nough." His eyes still admired her, knowing full well despite the way she talked and how she looked that her roots ran as deep as the women in his family. As she passed him his plate, their hands touched, causing the hard callouses on his fingers to brush her soft skin. The brief touch elicited a spark that ran so fast through her that it skipped her heart completely and she withdrew her hand. A look of shame dropped his eyes. "Eve' my hands ain't good 'nough to touch ye"

"Oh, Radford it ain't that." She exhaled, the impulse to snog him fully overwhelming her. It wasn't the curse that made ma'am Blackwood rash, no, she had always been that way. In a matter of seconds, the girl had lept from where she sat next to him, knocking the plate right out of his hand. She wanted to kiss him and so that is exactly what she did. Thus, their first kiss was the result of a dainty farmer's daughter over powering a burly farmer's son. They would have gotten away with it too, had they thought to brush the grass off before she returned home.



*The above quote in bold is from "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum.
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#2
She grew up on the side of the road where the church bells ring and strong love grows. She grew up good. She grew up slow.

Wagon wheels creaked along a well trodden path between rows of cherry trees as the Barry women followed, save for one. In the seat of the wagon, an elderly woman led the group, the matriarch. Each were cloaked in a dark colored shroud that covered their hair and hid their face; secrecy was a known code among the coven. The only light was from the Hunter's Moon above and a small lantern that was hooked to the wagon. Even though it had been many years since the Church of Light concerned themselves with the family of witches complacency was a fool's error. They felt safe on their own land, but the old traditions were followed closely.

The circle had been set and with homage paid to the ancestors they put their magick to work on the orchard. The Autumn Harvest had been a success for the small community around them and a bounty of fresh produce would feed them all well into the winter. To give thanks the coven chanted over their ground as if it were hallowed, healing the earth and fortifying the trees for the cold months that lay ahead. And how grave it was, that none, not even the matriarch knew of the cold that would be this winter. Thus, they continued on as they had done year after year.

Following their steps, another cloaked woman walked along side a large shy figure. She respectfully spoke her own incantation, warding off any disruption their presence may bring. In response, the old woman at the head of the coven pulled the wagon to a stop and silenced her group. With assistance she eased off of her throne and with the use of cane she slowly walked to meet the pair some yards back.

Chardonay, not the youngest of the group, held the hand of one of her younger cousins to keep the girl from getting distracted. However, she herself fidgeted knowing the reason for the interruption. It was a bold move on her and her beau's part, but taking after her gram, she knew it was the best way to strike the old woman's attention. Naturally, it had been her idea. Radford was scared straight down to his toes and in truth, she was surprised he mustered the courage to ask his mother this favor.

Beneath her hood, she stole glances at him and he returned them. It was only until she saw the hint of a smile on his face that she relaxed. Unfortunately, she had to wait for the tiny old woman to make her way back to the wagon and for the coven to finish their duties before she would be given the final word on her betrothal.
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#3
It was a time before the two could properly marry, the King's taxes being so high and all for that damn wall. But when they did, the home was full of love and laughter. At least until something got in Chardonay's crawl...

More than just a candle burned in Radford Blackwood's house that night. His wife, just barely nine months pregnant with their first and only child sat at the door fuming. She had heard two familiar voices singing in the woods fifteen minutes back. The closer they got the better she could make out the tune and it was not her favorite song.

"...as drunk as drunk coul' be. I saw'r two boots 'neath the bed where my two boots should be! So, I called m'wife and I say to her, kindly tell to me who owns th'boots 'neath the bed where my ol' boots should be."

The bellowing voice was clearly her husband's and she knew next her brother's would follow, "Oh, you're drunk, you're drunk you silly ol' fool. Can' you see they're two lovely Wolfsbane pots me mum sent to me?"

Then her husband again, "Well, it's many a day I travel a hundred miles or more, but laces in Wolfsbane pots I never seen afore!"

Despite their raucous laughter at one another the jolly song only made her angrier. The vulgarity of it whitened her knuckles which were clenched around the handle of a cast iron skillet she held in her lap. Oblivious to any audience they woke up they continued to drunkenly sing and stumble into the rose bushes that decorated the pathway to their cottage. Outside of the door they stopped, allowing Radford to belt out the last lyric, "As I came home on Light's Day as drunk as drunk coul' be. I saw'r a man runnin' out the door with his pants to his knees! So, I called m'wife and I say to her, kindly tell to me who were that man runnin' out the door with his pants to his knees?"

To which her brother replied, "Oh, you're drunk, you're drunk you silly ol' fool. Can' you see tha's a tax collector tha' the King sent to me?"

Radford swung open the door, his cheeks and nose red from too much Gilnean brandy, on his lips the last words of the tune. "Well, it's many a day I travel a hundred miles or more, but a city slick who can go 'till three..."

CRACK!

Iron met skull and the large redbearded man hit the floor. His little barefooted wife had put a stop to the nasty drinking song and made a point to her eldest sibling. "Now see 'ere, Rhubarb Barry. You go off for three days! Three! An' you bring 'im home like this?!" She glowered at her brother as she took her place on the floor next to her spouse. "No off with you, dad'll be needin' your help in the morn."

Her brother knew if he didn't heed her direction he'd likely end up on the floor in the same condition as Radford so he did as he was told. Now with Radford's head in her lap she peered down at him, eyeing the welp that was already forming on his noggin. Her eyes still angry, but his eyes were full of love.

"I see stars all aroun' you, love. Jus' like the first time I saw'r you." He spoke dreamily, "Or were tha' butterflies?"



*The song Radford and Rhubarb sang is a modified version of, "Seven Drunken Nights" an Irish pub song.
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