Celta Thursday, Lark Hawthorn Collinson Musings (Heart Duel)
His sweet smile, his intelligence, and the strength of his Healing Flair that so complimented her own, all combined in one man, a common man with none of the inborn and taught arrogance that beset those of her own class, had proved to be impossible for Lark to resist.
And now she was contemplating -- when her tumbled thoughts were not being swayed by her so-weak body -- an actual affair with one of the most confident, powerful men on Celta. A man she wasn't even sure she respected. Oh, he had Flair enough, and cleverness, and honor-- She stopped. Ah, that was the quality that redeemed him in her eyes, his own sense of honor. An honor she believed that he would never betray. A following of all the rules and laws that governed everyone on Celta, including GreatLords and Ladies.
And, Lark realized with a jolt, deep in her heart she simply didn't believe in HeartMate love.
She blinked at herself in surprise. It seemed to be a tenet of Celta, a foundation of their philosophy that should have steeped into her very bones with all her other education. But it hadn't. Perhaps it was the fact that her parents hadn't been HeartMates. Nor had her father's parents. Her FatherDam still lived in T'Hawthorn residence, long after her husband's death. And everyone knew HeartMates died within a year of their spouses.
No couple close to her had demonstrated the deep love that the HeartBond was supposed to confer. The closest she'd been to HeartMates was when she'd participated in NobleRituals and HeartMate couples had also done so. She knew there'd been an unusual strength and blending to their Flair, between the two and when they joined the Circle to build the cone of power, but they had been adults and she had been a child, and kept on the fringes of the Circle to protect her from harm, so she hadn't felt it close at hand.
And there wasn't a HeartMate for her. Not in this lifetime. She hadn't experienced any metaphysical connection to another person during the Passages that had freed her Flair, and that was the prime indicator that a person had a HeartMate -- some sort of link during Passage. No, her Passages had been stormy, but controllable, but with no outreaching to touch another's soul. With this knowledge, she hadn't hesitated to marry a fellow journeyman Healer. A man with the potential to be a great Healer, a Downwind man who'd grown beyond the disadvantages of his youth. Ethyn. A man who'd been literally cut down at the cusp of his career by a noble sword when he'd gone to help the fallen in a noble skirmish. The manner of his death had been as great a wound as his death itself, to Lark.
Of course, Holm Holly would believe in HeartMates. His parents, after all, were such. He'd grown up in a HouseHold permeated by the love of HeartMates for each other and their children. And, Lark frowned, T'Holly's sister had been a HeartMate, too, had bonded with T'Blackthorn. And Holm's best friend, T'Ash, was HeartBound to his mate. Holm had been in on that courtship, too, seeing how HeartMates courted and joined, contemporaries of himself.
So he believed.
Then, if she was entirely truthful with herself, there were also the doubts of her own nature. What did she have that attracted Holm so? His conquests of all classes of women, his gallantry and affairs had become nearly legendary. Why would he settle for an outcast from a FirstFamily? A woman who cared little for nobles and their intrigues. How could he prize a Healer, when his own Flair, and that of his Family from the time of the Colonists, had been for fighting?
Oh, yes. Lark could believe in lust, in the sexual attraction that sparked between them whenever they came close to each other. She could even accept that their was some sort of complementary harmony in their natures that let a mental and emotional link easily become established between them, smoothly.
She could admit to those attractions with Holm.
She could even admit that love between men and women could be deep and satisfying. But she couldn't see such a love developing between herself and Holm.
And she simply didn't believe in HeartMate love.
Perhaps for others, but not for herself.
And she couldn't even understand why this thought seemed so odd to her. Didn't she believe that she could be loved?
Ethyn had loved her. She knew that. But she knew the basis of his love had been because she, too, had been a Healer. She knew the trials, problems, and joy of Healing. She could understand him, match him in that.
And Lark acknowledged the power of her own Flair, was confident in it and in the status of FirstLevelHealer.
But did she have such a poor opinion of herself as a person, as a woman, that she didn't know what the Heir to a GreatHouse would find to love in her?
She wasn't even sure who she was as a person other than a Healer. That was the basic tenet* of her soul, the way she defined herself, her image of herself -- Lark, the Healer.