The noblewoman strolled along the river in the early morning light. Despite the chill, it was the best part of her day, away from the confines of the castle, the nobleman, the servants, the children. Here she could just walk in nature and be herself, even if that was highly strung up in the clothes of her station.
She didn’t spot the serf woman initially.
The serf woman spotted the noblewoman first. Cursing internally, there was no place to hide in the middle of the shallow river, where she had been hunting for fish. She crouched down slowly, hoping her drab shirt and pants would blend her into the rocks and the river in the dim light of the morning.
Despite her efforts though, the noblewoman spotted her. Although she wasn’t quite sure what she had spotted. Was there a dead body floating in the river? It was not something the noblewoman had seen before. When the body didn’t move, she became more intrigued, and despite the water on her drapery, she picked her way carefully, across the river. She stumbled twice as she was unfamiliar with such uneven ground, never having been in the river before.
As the noblewoman neared, the serf woman began to rise. No point getting thoroughly soaked, she thought, although she pretty much was already. The man’s shirt she wore clung to her chest and her pants were soaked as well. She cursed internally again for her foolishness at coming so far down the river, but the pickings had been slim further up. She was hungry.
Seeing the curves on the boy’s chest gave her cause. Entitled due to her station, she reached across and pulled aside the half worn and wet shirt, exposing a soft breast. She looked at the face of the person in front of her. She could see from the rough landscape of mouth, nose and eyes that this was someone whose life had been much harder than hers, but still was distinctly feminine.
Before she could say anything though, the serf woman took her hand and removed it from the shirt, but not quite let go of it.
‘What are you doing here?’ the noblewoman asked, more harshly than she wished to. Truth be known, those eyes and that breast had stirred some feeling in her that she did not recognise.
‘Nothing,’ the serf woman replied, still holding both gaze and hand, defiantly.
‘You’re not allowed here, this is my property.’ Terse, entitled.
‘You don’t own the river!’ Defiant, firm.
‘It’s on my property!’ Such insolence from someone so below her station, thought the noblewoman. But somehow she did not remove her hand from the woman’s grip.
‘It flows through your property! It comes and it goes. Just like the birds and the animals. You don’t own them!’ The serf woman continued to defiantly hold her gaze.
‘Just like you don’t own this!’ and she pulled the soft, clean hand and placed it between her legs. The noblewoman gasped, not just because of the pure impudence of the act, but also because her own reaction of physical and cerebral feeling surprised her. The pulse of electricity from her own place was almost unknown to her. It bought back thoughts of when she occasionally spied plump breasts bursting from her maid servant’s dress; the round bottoms beneath as they bent to pour hot water in her bath; a laugh and a smile as they passed the stableboy. Such things had stirred her but not electrified her like this.
Seeing that she had the reaction, or some reaction that she wasn’t quite sure of, the serf woman dropped the noblewoman’s hand. She smiled, knowing that she had caused some sort of ruckus inside the noblewoman, and skipped off nimbly through the water, into the forest beyond and out of sight.
Now standing alone, and getting heavier by the minute with her dress soaking up the river, the noblewoman again picked her way back to the water’s edge. Her mind was ablaze with the woman’s eyes, her insolence! Her calm and certain ways. So different to the crush of the stone, the dimness, the oppressive role with which the noblewoman held. Her nobleman was good enough she supposed, but no amount of goodness helped when he came to take his dues from her in the night. She shook her head from the thoughts and dragged her heavy dress up towards the stark building in front of her.
The serf woman watched her go. The noblewoman was much surer on land but periodically she seemed to be distracted by thoughts, shaking her head. Was that about her, the serf woman wondered? She had never seen someone so beautiful up close except in her youth. Those eyes, the soft lips, the clear and slightly pink cheeks. The serf woman had long ago noted her pleasure was for and from women, and she’d managed to have some of that magic in her life. Now though, she was alone, living in a shack on borrowed land deep in the forest, trying to forage a life for herself and her daughter that was free.
And for both women the thought appeared, now knowing that they could meet, would they?
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,