Patching Up Your Hot...Wife (Fantasy Heroine Snippets)
Happy New Year! Well. Nearly.
In June of 2022 I had a silly idea for a sketch about a writer and her recalcitrant Fantasy Heroine, and as of the 31st December 2022 I have not only 42 minutes of video on the subject, but also 51,000 words of a novel draft.
And also some other stuff that isn't actually going to be included in the book at all, aha. Ha. Ha.
So for your general joy (Patrons and channel members will have seen some of these before in their earlier forms) I present: some excerpts from the draft as it currently exists, and a short story that takes place before and after the events of the series/novel.
Yes, both, it'll make sense in a moment.
Rosamund insisted on walking (very slowly) down the stairs, past the members of both the Queen’s Guard and the Hawkhurst guard who were now patrolling the halls of her home, but as soon as they got to the kitchen she slumped onto a chair, whimpering.
‘Should I fetch the physician?’ She shook her head.
‘She was elderly when I first arrived here. Please don’t wake her up in the middle of the night unless you think I’m actually dying.’
‘And if I judge that you are dying?’ he said, more harshly than he intended.
She didn’t seem to notice. ‘Then do what you think best.’ Rosamund closed her eyes again.
‘No sleeping,’ he snapped, trying to stay calm, ‘I don’t know where anything is.’
Rosamund provided some direction without bothering to open her eyes. He mixed her a painkiller, which she drank without (much) complaint while he collected everything else.
Suitably provisioned, he slung the medical pouch over his shoulder, held the bowl in one hand, and attempted to support his wife (his wife) with the other as they recrossed the inner ward and made for the stairs to the Rose Room.
At the Bridge and Rabbit, he’d had two free hands and she’d only been pretending to sleep, so getting her on the horse hadn’t been too difficult, but right now he had one hand to spare, she was shivering, and progress was glacial.
‘Are you sure that you aren’t hurt?’ Rosamund asked him dreamily for probably the fourth time as they reached the top of the stairs. ‘I think I should have asked that first before ordering you to run around. I’m sorry.’
‘You didn’t order, you asked. And I’m fine.’
Well, one of his hands was bleeding and his back was scratched to pieces, but given the alternative if Rosamund hadn’t been there, he considered himself very fortunate indeed. He was fine. Mostly fine.
One crisis at a time.
Rosamund reached the door to their room (their room) first, and practically fell through it. Even though the fire still burned in the grate, she was now shaking in earnest, which was hardly an encouraging sign.
Leo checked thoroughly, but no unwanted guests lurked under the bed or behind the curtains. He locked the door behind them and took up a light to put by the bed as Rosamund started to clumsily pull off her overdress.
‘I really liked this surcoat,’ she muttered hazily, ‘and now it’s all torn and…’ she blinked, searching for the word, ‘bloodstained…’
‘We’ll get you a new one, my Lady,’ Leo said soothingly as he helped her onto the bed, ‘now please, try and stay still.’
Rosamund whined again, but complied, and he tried to peel the sticky, torn green fabric of her undershirt away from her stomach. She was wearing long hose underneath, and he tried to remember to breathe as he untied one side and gently pulled it down from her hip.
The wound seemed reasonably superficial, and Leo sighed in relief. The cut was long, starting on her hip and crossing most of her stomach, and the bruises would be impressive, but she should be all right.
Leo wondered if the assassin was dead. Given the whimpering woman lying beneath him (don’t think about that, he told his treacherous brain) he wasn’t sure if he hoped so or not.
Shaking the thought away, he picked up a cloth. The bleeding, while impressive, had already slowed, but as soon as he put pressure on it, Rosamund gasped.
‘Am I going to need stitches?’
Leo cleaned a little further, wondering the same thing. But the cut wasn’t too deep, and he’d got a jar of the glue she’d used on his injuries...not even two weeks ago.
What had his life turned into?
Best not to think about that right now.
‘If you can rest for the next few days, my Lady, I hope not.’
She relaxed a little, and tried to smile at him. ‘No more foiling assassins for me.’
He smiled back, in spite of himself. ‘Best avoided, my Lady.’
She frowned in his general direction. ‘My name is Rosamund, you know,’ she said, with the careful over-enunciation of someone who was not entirely in control of all their faculties. ‘You can call me Rosamund. I think we’re friends,’ Leo’s hands stuttered, ‘and you did marry me.’ She considered him sleepily. ‘You can probably call me Rosy, I won’t mind.’
Part of Leo thought that was probably the shock talking. But the greater part of him was unaccountably warmed by the fact that his own wife thought that they were friends. How this had become his life, he wasn’t quite sure, but there they were.
‘I’m...not in the habit, my Lady,’ he admitted, folding another torn piece of green velvet up towards her ribs. Rosamund looked unimpressed.
‘Well, Leopold,’ she retorted, and he felt a jolt in his stomach at the use of his full first name, ‘you never will be if you don’t start.’
It was at this point that Leo officially gave up on pretending he wasn’t hopelessly in love with this lunatic of a woman. ‘An excellent point. Rosamund.’
She smiled at him. ‘Better.’ He took advantage of her distraction to sweep the vinegar straight across her stomach.
She made a face at him. ‘No you’re not. You’re getting revenge for being called Leopold.’
‘I understand the legal necessity during the wedding service, but honestly, I’d have preferred Landon.’
She laughed at the reference. ‘I’ll bear that in mind, my Lord.’
‘Now who’s being overly formal with their spouse, my...Rosamund?’
She grinned, though it was a little strained. ‘Takes one to know one.’ She nodded at the jar of glue. ‘Do you know how to use that?’
‘Not a clue.’
‘Well, you need a bowl and some very hot water...’ It didn’t take long to mix up the glue and apply it, though it felt strange to leave her stomach so exposed while it dried. Rosamund had fallen silent while he applied the mixture, but at least she wasn’t shaking any more. Her breathing was getting slower and deeper, and after Leo had covered the wound with a bandage, he considered the relative merits of offering to help her change her clothes compared to the merits of just letting her fall asleep.
He had just decided that probably simplicity was the order of the day when she inhaled sharply and opened her eyes. ‘Would you get me a nightdress please? They’re in the second drawer over there.’
Her nightclothes were, as it turned out, precisely where she’d said. That was a relief, because when he went to retrieve his own, his nightshirt was...not where he’d left it that morning.
Rosamund hauled herself into a sitting position. ‘Something wrong?’
Leo shook his head. ‘I just need to go and...fetch something, excuse me.’ He unlocked the door. ‘I’ll only be a moment.’ He frowned at her. ‘For pity’s sake, woman, lie down.’
‘I can’t change if I’m lying down,’ she protested, ‘and Viscount or not, sir, you are not the boss of me.’
‘Since you gave me leave to decide whether or not to wake the physician, I think I am, currently, the boss of you.’ Rosamund stuck her tongue out at him, and proceeded to haul off the remainder of her torn, bloodstained clothes and hurl them in his general direction. Of course, by the time she’d managed to pull them over her head, he was already gone.
By the time Leo returned from the garderobe, where the rest of his belongings resided unmolested by his so-called friend, she was in her nightgown, pulling the ribbon out of her hair and letting the plaits fall around her shoulders.
‘I don’t know if you have a usual side,’ she said matter-of-factly, gesturing to the bed, ‘but I’m taking the one that puts all of this,’ she gestured at her bandages, ‘as far from you as possible.’ And then, quite unexpectedly, she grinned at him. ‘I promise not to hog the blankets.’
And there was that warmth again.
‘Goodnight, Rosamund.’ Maybe if he said it a few more times it wouldn’t seem so uncomfortably intimate.
‘Goodnight, Leo. Sleep well.’
Famous last words, of course.