A/N- This chapter's a bit shoddily written. I look forward to CONSTRUCTIVE critiques and if I find I can edit this chapter (Which I'm sure I will) I will do so. Thank-you to Nadia 20 and agua-angel for their lovely reviews.

And since you know you cannot see yourself,

so well as by reflection, I, your glass,

will modestly discover to yourself,

that of yourself which you yet know not of.

William Shakespeare

Chapter One:

Katrine la Belle

Does love of God far surpass the love of a woman? Of a man?

There are those who argue: YES! Love of a man or of a woman is a love short lived! We are only on this earth for a short time and so therefore that love (Which is desire discreetly in the form of love) we feel is only temporary while Our Father in Heaven is eternal, concluding that our love of him is forever!

Then there are those who say, no. The love of men and women is far more precious. Since we live on this earth for only a mere few years we must treasure that love and hold it dear to our hearts. Even dearer than the Lord, who is eternal, and because of this we know we will have his love forever, while that blessed earthly love is only for a small while.

The question is: which is the correct answer? When our story takes place the answer was always the first argument. In a bygone era where the people knew mostly of God's wrath versus his compassion, to love the flesh before the Lord was considered one of the wickedest sins possible. And sin, as we all know is punishable by the descent into hell to dwell with Lucifer for eternity.

But, we know there is always a minority to the majority. There were those, very few in numbers, who loved each other more than they loved themselves or even God; which is where our story begins:

Sotheby Hall was a quiet little manor settled along the River Medway. It had been bestowed upon one Sir Anthony Wickham, in the year of Our Lord 1486, by His Majesty Henry VII. Young Wickham had fought fiercely during the bloody campaigns to help Henry win his throne from the vile Yorks. Sir Anthony, now an old feeble man had retired to the manor, some four years back to live out the rest of his days in placid contentment. He brought with him, his wife Katrine la Belle, and his young daughters Isobel and Anne. Katrine, or Catherine as she was now known was the daughter of an English knight and a French Comte's daughter. La Belle, was a suitable name for such a lady. She had long golden tresses and eyes green as emeralds. The Lady was not more than 22, but was devoted to her elderly husband. Catherine was a cheerful soul but was often plagued by queer spells where she would be silent and only cry. Sir Anthony put up with the spells as kindly as she treated his old age maladies which strengthen their love even more. The spells were that of her memories of her troubled youth. One night, four years after she had entered Sotheby Hall, She looked out of the window into the black night. She felt that odd feeling when she would start remembering and she closed her eyes. From her earliest days she was scorned by her father's family for being the offspring of "That Frenchwoman." She often remembered the harsh stares her Aunt and Grandmother would give her mother while she rocked her two young children to sleep all the while singing soft French lullabies. "Why dost thou sing to me son's children in that Godforsaken tongue?" The proud Old Saxon woman would spit out.

"Them is descended from the former Kings of this great nation, 'afore that French bastard, William came and as nice as you please, killed them!!! In this house maidy, we do not speak French. English is good enough for us, so 'tis fine for you, 'highness.'"

The Old Woman and her daughter would guffaw heartily as they sneered at her mother's pretty face water with pristine tears. Even though, Isabella loved her husband dearly, she was relieved when he was killed in the bloody wars between the Yorks and Lancasters. She took her young son, Michael and Katrine and fled to France to live among their French relations. By then Katrine's grandfather had died and her uncle was the new Comte. For the first time in her young life, Katrine felt freed from the degrading comments of her English kin and lived happily among kind relatives who loved her dearly. But as Katrine blossomed into a beautiful rose, a different degradation sufficed. Her uncle had also noticed she was on the brink of womanhood.

He often gazed upon the young girl in his gardens playing her lute and sweetly singing a song of her own composition. Once he noticed, her lips were as pink as gillyflowers and curved into a seductive smile. Her fair tresses tumbled down to her waist as loose as a virgin's on her wedding day. The lass's breasts were now straining the bodice of her old gown, a hand-me-down from his daughter. I shall make a gift to her of rich cloth for a new gown, he thought to himself. A deep blue perhaps to bring out the gold in her hair or perhaps a pink blush. He licked his lips in anticipation wondering what sweet taste her mouth held. "Uncle,"

She called out in realization that he was watching her,

"Come, I wish to let you hear something."

She beckoned him to come to her. Obligingly he trudged to her, where she was seated upon a marble bench. He smelt the essence of lavender upon her skin and felt certain parts of his body respond to her tender touch of his arm. This is madness, he cried silently to himself. She is my sister's child and to fornicate with her is a sin. She looked up at him, questioning him with her emerald green eyes.


She exclaimed exasperated. "Listen!" He nodded solemnly and sat himself next to her on the bench. She began strumming her lute and began to sing in her sweet soprano voice:

Lo ferm voler q'el cor m'intra

no.m pot ies becs escoissendre ni ongla

de lausengier, qui pert per mal dir s'arma;

e car non l'aus batr'ab ram ni ab verga,

sivals a frau, lai on non aurai oncle,

iauzirai ioi, en vergier o dinz cambra

The Comte was quiet for a moment.

"Is that all you will sing for me, la belle?"

He asked not daring to look at her. She nodded her blonde head.

"Aye. That's all I have learned afar. 'Twas scribbled by Arnaut the Troubadour nigh about 200 years past. The song bears the name, 'Lo ferm voler, The Firm Desire.'"

Her Uncle nodded his head. Of all the songs she had to learn at this very moment!

"Yes I am familiar with that tune. It lies, la belle. Your uncle would never spy upon you"

He cursed himself for the lie he had just told. He was of course spying upon her at that very moment.

"Of course not, Uncle. 'Tis only the words of some addled ditty."

But inwardly, Katrine had agreed with the words. She felt her Uncle's stare constantly. He ravished her by day with his eyes and at night she feared to sleep, feeling a pair of foreign eyes upon her as she undressed.

"Well," The Comte exclaimed exasperated as he rose from the seat. "La Belle, that was very pretty. Very pretty indeed. That old lute you are strumming. It is not good enough for you. You shall have a new one carved out of rose wood, polished until it shines like you're beautiful hair."

He caresses a few tresses that had fallen over her breasts. Katrine felt horrified.

"No Uncle. I do not need a new lute. This one is good enough." She pulled away from his hard gaze. "I shall go now. My Lady Mother will have need of me to attend her."

She sprinted quickly towards the château. The Comte sank down onto the bench and picked up her neglected lute. He pressed the instrument softly to his lips and caressed the strings with his fingers.

"Some day, la Belle." He whispered fiercely. "Some day, you shall be mine."

Catherine stared out of the dark window. Aye, he had made her his. For a time. He pursued her hotly like a hunting party pursued it's pray. But all she could do was to smile sweetly and ignore him. She filled her days nursing Isabella who had fallen deathly ill from a foreign ailment. Katrine was devoted to her mother and was scared at the prospect of her death, but she would shake her head and protest her mother would live. But one day, Midsummer's Eve, Isabella seemed to grow worse. Katrine dutifully called to the château's priest Brother Henri. She silently wept as he administered the Last Rites to her mother kindly. It seemed afterwards Isabella was drained of all energy. She called out to Michael and Katrine to see her for one last time.

"My Children," She whispered in her sickly tone. "My Children. Do not stay here after my death. Katrine I see how my brother stares at you. It is not healthy. Take your brother and go home. Back to England."

Katrine shook her head, her tears pouring down like a rainfall. "No, Mother. I cannot. My father's relations, they do not want us. Do you not remember when Father died how quickly his mother turned us out?"

Isabella nodded softly. "Yes, but I will not be there. It will be better for you there." Michael bowed by her bed. "But Madame, you will not die." He said confidently. "Tomorrow, you shall be better and we shall go fishing in the river. Like we used to."

Isabella stroked her son's dark locks. "I fear my son, I shall not live." Michael started to weep and his nursemaid took the young lad aside.

"Katrine, take care of your brother. He needs you more than ever." She paused for what seemed like an hour rather than a few moments. "Edward!" She cried the name of Katrine's father and her body went limp.

Katrine couldn't believe it. It seemed too surreal to be true. Young Michael broke away from his nurse and jumped onto his mother's bed and clung to her cold body. "MAMA!!!" He cried. "MAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!"

Several servants helped the maid pull her charge off of his mother but they could not succeed. Katrine crossed herself with uncertainty and slipped quietly from the room. As she turned round the corner of the corridor, she walked right into her Uncle.

"Oh Uncle!" She cried and she threw her arms around his neck. He bent down and kissed her lips firmly. She did not fight him as he carried her off to his bed.

Catherine felt tears cascading down her cheeks. No, she thought to herself. I cannot think about this. But her mind did not listen. Soon the two of them lay naked on her Uncle's bed. "La Belle," He whispered as he kissed her neck.

"Stay with me, I need you." Katrine nodded her head but did not hear his words. Holy Mother, she thought. Forgive me of my great sin. Soon the Comte drifted off to sleep and she knew what she had to do. She hastily dressed herself and went to her room and packed a small bundle. Quietly, she made her way to her mother's chamber and could still hear small whimpers coming from the great bed. She closed her eyes and whispered, "Lord give me strength."

She walked the bed where Michael laid, his little body wrapped in sweat. Isabella was gone, most likely to be prepared to be sealed up in the great family crypt. "Michael" she cooed.

"Michael, 'tis me, Katrine, you're sister." Michael slowly sat up. "Go away!" He protested simply. "I want my Mama." Katrine sighed as she pulled the boy close to her. "Michael, Mama's in heaven now, with Papa. She's not coming back." The young boy slapped her hard upon the face. "You Lie!!! You Lie!!!" He screamed. Katrine held the weeping boy as he melted into her arms. "Michael, you heard what Mama said. We must leave this place. Michael, this place is evil. We must go to England." He nodded solemnly, suddenly changing his behaviour.

He did not seem his 10 years anymore. For the first time, Katrine noted that Michael resembled their father in many ways. It made her want to weep even more, but she did not. They waited a while and using the darkness of the night as their guise, the quickly escaped the chateau and made their way towards Normandy where they had caught passage back to England. There they made their way to their Grandmother's residence in Sussex where she welcomed them with open arms. \ "Thou art such pretty children." She would crone. "I did not want you to leave, but your mother, took you away from me. But now, my angels, you are with me at last." Michael had quickly attached himself to the Duke of Buckingham's retinue and was knighted by the good Duke for being "A Brave Soul, with courage and loyalty." In truth, the only reason he knighted Michael at as was because he liked him. Michael shared his love of jousting, horses, fine ale and women. Their Grandmother was blind to this. She thought that Sir Michael was beloved for his proud Saxon linage and his father's favour. Little did she know of the wenching and drinking Michael participated in. Little did she know of Catherine's heart break either.

It took Katrine some time to realize that she had been de-
flowered, her honour taken from her. That long realization had created
a break in her spirit which would take many years, if ever to mend.
That trauma, however dwindled when she met Sir Anthony, a distant
cousin who had visited her Grandmother. She was quickly captivated by
the man, twice her age and he with her. It delighted the old woman
when the match was arranged. She thought it the perfect remedy for the
poor melancholy maiden who she almost loved dearly.

The pain also eased when she told Sir Anthony of her past. He
understood kindly and was not troubled by it. He had been married
before and had several children older than her. He barely remembered
bedding a virgin which he had only done once. The trouble was only a
flicker when their little girls were born, but sometimes, seldom as it
was, the pain came back to her and she wept for it. She was thankful
the spell came at night, this time. She did not want the others to see
her, though it was not night anymore. She noted the beauty of the
sunrise, a ribbon of pink and yellow. Suddenly, the door opened
swiftly and a young maid gasped as she fell to her knees.

"I'm.I'm sorry, My Lady. I did not know you were awake. I wouldn't
have come if I knew."

Catherine smiled at the young maid. "'Tis fine Bess. You're up
early!" She remarked.

Bess nodded as she swept out the hearth. "Aye, milady. Wat Steward
instructed us to arise an hour earlier than usual on the account of
Sir Michael's visit."

Catherine smiled at the mention of her brother. "No doubt, you're
sister is pleased."

Bess blushed, not wanting to reveal her sister and Sir Michael's
relationship. "Milady?" She questioned innocently.

Catherine smiled at Bess's loyalty to her sister. "Bess, there is no
need to pretend with me. Michael told me of his attachment to your
sister. I think he rather loves her."

Bess shook her head. "I don't understand love, my lady. It confuses

Catherine walked over to the girls and stroked her ash brown curls.
"Bess, you will know love someday. It's very wonderful and it can heal
many great wounds. It has for me."

Bess looked at the young matron. She had heard whispers among the
other servants of her Ladyship's fits. She had often reprimanded many
of the young scullery maids for slandering the lady. Bess admired
Catherine, who was only five years older to Bess's 17. She felt almost
that Catherine understood her, Almost.

"Aye, I hope I will know love one day like Sir Anthony and you."

And she went back to sweeping the hearth out.

A/N: Like I said afore. I wrote this hastily. I definitely will go back and edit this later. Good Listening Music for this Chapter- Magic (Ben Folds Five) I hope you enjoyed and don't forget to Review too. I enjoy hearing your suggestions to make this a better story.

Translation for The Firm Desire:

The firm desire that enters

Can neither be taken from my heart by beak or nail

Of that liar who loses his soul through speaking evil,

And since I dare not beat him with either a branch or rod,

I will in some secret place, where I will have no spying uncle,

Rejoice with my joy, in a garden or in a chamber