I took Valentine’s hand, and he led me out of the double doors and into the brilliant twilight air which hovered its light fingers over my face. We walked together up a massive hill around the back of the manor house and laughed at each other as we passed over its lush green grass. We approached the Ravenswood Vineyard from the Southside, and immediately a gentle scent of summer wine fragranced the warm dewy air. The soft calls of the ravens that soared above ceased somewhat as night drew closer across the landscape. The sweet wine scent danced and dallied upon the tongue and resonated upon the taste buds as an essence of the alpine surroundings, a soul. The tall mountains towered as hard rough shards of glass, glinting in the dying sunlight and cascading the coveting light all around the hills and ridges.
The July sun, which had been so brilliantly bright, began to fade enchantingly out of view behind the ridges and crests of those rolling hills and the clear now darkened sky marked time filled with bright white crystalline stars, burning with righteous fury: Aryan’s envy, watching over Virginia below. The stars shone down with such luminance they almost cast a ray, beaming light, filling the darkness with order and the chaos with purity – eyes keeping watch in the night.
The beams illuminated the tangled vines that grew with glorious gifts of crimson grapes, heralding the heavens. The ground underfoot was soft and fertile and slightly damped in places as if the soil had been recently watered and nourished by the farmer? No, it was not that; it was true love’s potency shot with the string held pointedly and precisely for minutes – even hours, perhaps – until it had been released and scattered over the land below. Cupid was nowhere to be seen at this moment; perhaps he was hiding behind a tree, spying on us young lovers with eager, interested eyes, waiting to report back to his faery king that his work here was done, his duty accomplished.
Apples grew alongside the grapes in towering trees with lush green sweeping leaves rustling in the subtle breeze; paper packages almost, baring the lifeline of so many. The leaves protected the gentle blossoms, which grew pale, blushing pink at the delicate epicentre, and spread out until the light pink shade faded and became purest Chinese white; innocence and purity, winking and blinking from between the crisp leaves. A heavy dew lay upon the leaves thickly; the dust of pixies, dancing and prancing in the evening air.
The dim sunlight finally died and buried itself in a sepulchre behind the high ridges and mountain peaks. The vineyard now lay in darkness. The gentle birdsong had faded away completely. The sweet melody of the nightingale had begun. Not to worry, the moonbeams and stars will light the way for the world.
Valentine turned to me softly and promised me his undying and eternal love. He pulled a crimson grape from its vine and placed it between my lips. I crunched it between my teeth, and the juice filled my mouth with a warmth practically indescribable. I took one singular moment to look up at the sky and breath in the colossal significance of this – this one golden, indescribable heartbeat of my life.
I felt a warm droplet land on my left cheek, just beneath my eye. But it was not a teardrop, no, although perhaps it would have been entirely appropriate to cry in a moment where everything was changing forever. It was a raindrop. A tiny summer raindrop. It trickled down along its path to my jawline, where it did not fall to the dewy grass. No, it was swept away by Valentine. And he looked back at me the way every girl wants to be looked at, as if she is the only thing of any consequence in his universe. He placed his hand against my cheek where the droplet had been and began to kiss me gently at first and then more forcefully. The heavens above us opened, and rain fell thickly to earth, cascading down as Aphrodite had just upturned a china jug of water she had been using to wash her hair from beyond a cloud.
“Come on.” He whispered with a distinct glee in his eye. He grabbed my hand and pulled me back down the way we had come towards the manor and picked me up in his arms as he ran with me down the hill, almost slipping and sliding as he went. It felt joyous to be with a man who wanted me this much. He ran with me past the house itself and towards the lake.
“Where are we going, Valentine?” I asked, filled with trepidation.
“The Boat House.” He laughed.
“I want to make love to you on the floor of the Boat House.” I giggled as he spoke and a distinct fluttery feeling swept over my entire body. It was time. In this cascading rainstorm, it was time for me to be reborn. The sins of the past would be washed away. But what about the sins of this New England? Would they be washed away by the blood of the Revolution? Or would that blood and its deep stains that run like rivers become its sins?
As we came to the Boat House, Valentine placed me down on a red Persian carpet which lay in the centre of the octagonal space and left the white double doors open behind him, their white linen drapes fluttering and being dampened by the summer rain which trickled and pattered onto the ground and against the marble pillars of the Boat House. As Valentine removed his shirt, I didn’t watch him. It seemed too sacred a moment to stare unwittingly at a sculpted male torso. No, I gazed out of the open double doors with eyes alive with the most colossal, wondrous enchantment that leapt like fire from my inky black pupils to the Virginian landscape, illuminating the damp green grass, the tall trees which trembled tremulously in the lurid nocturnal brilliance of the night. This night. And the sky. The pearly white crescent moon had broken free from behind the wispy cloud which had concealed it and shone its own waxy lunar luminance down in bright rays of pure light onto the shadowy earth.
Society was like a veil of all-obscuring cloud, I suppose, endlessly attempting to hide what is from view with a milky greyish glaze that secreted it so well. Until that brilliant, enviable moon broke free. Yes, that moon at this moment was just a crescent, bore ceaselessly to grow in size only, to fill itself with only more and more light, but this moon was not there yet. Perhaps Valentine’s moon was full. Yes, I would imagine that Valentine’s moon would be full, for it most likely never had a waxy veil of cloud obscuring it. It had just grown and grown from the glorious summer day of his birth, and now it was full of that perfect, glorious light which beamed down upon the earth, concentrated sharply upon its subjects.
Or perhaps Valentine was the sun.
Yes, a luminance that set the world all aglow with the kind of fire that only existed between the pages of books. That kind of fire only belonged to the men in this world (of which there are so few) who have broken free of that cloud. The men who have transcended the human shackles of society and what is expected. They get to possess a spark of Prometheus’s Fire which sits neatly in their chest, on the left side. And sure as the summer day is long, that fire burned inside of Valentine. I could see it in his eyes when he took me into his arms and began to undress me, and began to kiss me all over my body. It felt good to be so loved.
He turned me over lightly and undid my corset with one hand, spreading it apart in one delicate yet brutally strong movement, which forced the white fabric away from itself so that my entire back with exposed to him and his gentle hands as he went further and further and didn’t say a word to me. I had always imagined that in a husband and wife’s first chance at lovemaking, there would be a lot more talking. Although come to think of it, in the books I had read, no one ever talks to anyone while doing anything of that kind. But it still surprised me still, this perfect, impenetrable silence which seemed to make this moment into some kind of ceremonial act of ecclesiastical reckoning between man and wife. Between me and Valentine.
He was so gentle with me. And yet, his hands felt so firm. His chestnut waves of thick, soft hair often fell over his eyes and obscured his view momentarily until, with a light wave of his head, he flicked them away again. His blue eyes darted like dragonflies upon the surface of the river from his work with me beneath him to my eyes. Yes, his eyes often momentarily held their own incantation over mine as if I could not snatch mine away from his gaze which – when it caught sight of me meeting it – darted away again to gaze either at the task in hand or to the double doors and the rain which was still falling from beyond the windowpane.
I could hear soft piano music from beyond the Raven Woods. It seeped into through the night with a kind of imperial majesty that sent a little flutter through me as I finished simultaneously to Valentine. And he kissed me again. A kind of sweet kiss befitting the final rebirth of Duchess Theodosia Ravenwood. She was me now. And I was one with Valentine Ravenswood at last. I suppose I had been wrong about my previous statements upon that fire which only certain men possess; that fire also belongs to the woman that holds him as her own.