- Soundless Tide -
1: une ange

My days with my Angel began when he appeared suddenly to our small town. He was a strongly-built and handsome young man who came astride his equally magnificent steed like a shining prince from a story. The first moment I laid my gaze upon him, I had thought he looked as an angel should. From faintly copper skin to fine auburn locks, he was flawless.

I remember that moment clearly. I had just been on my way back home from the fields. A large bundle was strapped to my back and though I could not see, I knew my face was a mess of sweat and dirt. With the heavy burden my passage was slow. When I heard hooves approaching from the path behind me, I had no extra strength to bother turning to look. Only when that tall steed had suddenly stopped beside me did I put in the effort to look up, and therein I had my first glance of my Angel.

"Excuse me. Where can I find the Elder Tancredo?" he asked me. His voice was deep, tinged with a melodic gentility that only served to accentuate his saintly looks. As he spoke, his lips curved up ever so delicately in a smile that made me wish to bow my head in shame.

Unfortunately, that was all I could do. I merely lowered my head, shaking it sadly as I watched the white stallion pawing at the dirt path restlessly.

When I looked up again, he was dismounting from the horse. I stepped back so that he would not trip over me as he did so. He turned and looked at me, and from this closer range I could see that his eyes were a brilliant shade of turquoise that reminded me so much of the sea. Flushing, I took another step back; I was filthy and felt as though I should not be allowed to be near the presence of this seemingly angelic person.

"Perhaps you did not hear my question. I am looking for the Elder Tancredo. Do you know where I may find him?" I heard his sweet voice again. The edges of his shoes came into my eyesight as I stared fervently at the ground. Looking at him sadly, I shook my head again and licked my lips. His beautiful smile faded and I felt my heart clenching tightly for being the cause of such a sad change in the perfect lips. "Do you not know?" he pressed on.

I didn't know how I could best express this to him. After a moment, I opened my mouth meaningfully. He still looked puzzled as before, so I tapped my lips with a finger and proceeded to shake my head again. At last he seemed to understand.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I did not know... Well, perhaps you could still guide me into town? I am not quite certain if this path will get me to my destination," he said lightly as he took a cautious step back from me. Looking down, I felt the same clenching of my heart. Nonetheless I nodded and began continuing on my path from before while he took up the reins of his horse and followed.

It was an awkward return to the village, as I could tell he wished to ask me many questions but had to suppress them, knowing that I could not answer. I wanted to hear him, though; I wanted to hear that voice that made me melt in awe and jealousy. How I wanted to ask him to speak so that I may hear his wondrous voice!

When we finally arrived at the central area of the village, I pointed to the small house where the Elder lived. My Angel gave me a smile and nodded.

"Thank you for your help," he said as a curt manner of farewell. I nodded again meekly before turning and walking back to my own home. As I did, I couldn't help but glance back continuously at him as he knocked on the Elder's door and waited. Only when he went inside the house did I stop glancing back, and it was good that I did; I nearly tumbled into a well.

Though our encounter had been fleeting, I couldn't remove his image from my mind. Even when I returned home, my mother asked me if I was feeling ill; my face was horribly flushed beneath my mask of dirt and sweat. I merely shook my head and undid my bundle so that I could proceed to go wash.

All the rest of the afternoon I wondered about that handsome young man. Why had he come to our village? From the looks of his clothes, he was a rich aristocrat from the capital, and he had said that he had business with the Elder. Whatever it was, it must have been quite important for him to have come personally rather than send a messenger.

Unfortunately, thinking of him so often caused me to be clumsier than usual; I constantly knocked things over or dropped things until my mother sighed and sent me to lie down for fear that I was actually ill. I did not argue and went to curl up beneath a thin blanket as I stared out the window. What I longed for most was to go out and find that man again and hope to hear him speak; but even being near him would satisfy me.

I fell asleep shortly after, and that was how I remained for a long time after, my mind still full of thoughts of my angel when I was jolted awake by a soft knocking at our door. I glanced at the window and saw that it was still long before dusk. My mother must have gone out to do the washing or something else, for she was nowhere in sight. Instead, I rose to my feet and went to the door, dragging my blanket halfway across the room as I had not bothered to pull it off before standing.

The moment I opened the door and saw him with his hand raised to knock again, I stumbled back in surprise. He had been the last person I'd expected to see. Immediately he rushed forward to help me and though I was perfectly fine, I didn't brush him away. He came so close that his face was practically to mine. Without even seeing I could tell that my face was turning a dark red again.

"I'm sorry, did I bother you?" he asked me gently with that soft voice of his. I shook my head in response as I stood again with his help. When I looked up, he gave me a dazzling smile. "I'm glad. I was almost worried... Oh, you must be wondering why I'm here. I asked the Elder if he knew of you, and he pointed me to this house. I just wanted to thank you properly for helping me earlier."

Unsure of what he was trying to say, I simply stared. Even if I mouthed words, he probably would not be able to understand; usually it took people a while to get used to reading my lips. I looked down awkwardly and went to pick up the blanket I had strewn carelessly in my attempt to answer the door.

He shuffled his feet somewhat nervously and cleared his throat. "Ah, that is to say..." he began, but didn't get much further. I looked up at him questioningly as I folded up the blanket and put it on the chair. "I was a little surprised... I did not expect a young woman to carry such a large burden from the fields. I felt guilty for not offering help," he said nervously. His hand brushed against his fair locks as I stared at him in faint confusion. After a moment of clearing his throat and shuffling his feet, I suddenly understood. He had thought I was a woman!

In a rush to try to clear up the misunderstanding, I shook my head furiously and waved my hands. He looked at me in a stunned manner. I bit my lip and tried to think of how I could describe this without embarrassing myself. This was too difficult.

"What is the matter?" he asked kindly as he approached. My mind kept rushing to think of how to tell him that I wasn't a girl. At last I shook my head slowly and reached to take his hand. I pressed it to my flat chest, heart aflutter all the while as his strong palm pressed my skin through the thin shirt. I knew this had worked, for his expression changed from politely confused, to stunned, to shocked, to embarrassedly shocked.

"Oh, ah, I... I-I'm terribly sorry!" he breathed, quickly pulling his hand away. This act made me want to cry out sadly...but of course I couldn't do such a thing. "I didn't...I didn't know. I'm so sorry... It's just...you looked so...much like a-a... I'm honestly so sorry. Please accept my apology."

I shook my head at him, a small smile passing over my lips at his sudden inarticulateness. Even when flustered, he was so elegant and proper. He exhaled slowly, his eyes locked on my face. As I watched his own, I saw the realization spread across his features. After a while, he nodded, as if to say to himself, 'Yes, this is definitely not a woman, now that I look closely.' I flushed and looked down at my hands, which were playing idly with the hem of my shirt. It was filthy, I noted, and I was all the more embarrassed to stand before this shining Angel in such a state.

"Ah, I'm terribly sorry. Where are my manners today? I don't believe I have introduced myself. My name is Gabriele D'Arcangelo. May I inquire as to your name?" he said eloquently. A true Angel's name...and it sounded so familiar...but I looked at him with a pained expression and shook my head vigorously again but he interrupted. "Ah, no, it's not like that. Could you maybe write your name for me?"

Looking around, I looked for something I could write on, but as my family was a farming family, not an academic one, we didn't have much. With a shrug, I knelt down and began to trace out the oddly unfamiliar letters of my name. For a moment, I was glad that the Elder had taken pity on me and taught me to write. With my knees to my chest and my head bent down, I could feel my Angel's eyes on the ground where my finger snaked along it. I looked up when I was finished tracing the letters. Gabriele smiled down at me.

"Tacito... It's a very nice name. It suits you..." my Angel mused lowly as he smiled. I wanted to smile back, but it hurt...knowing that my name indeed did suit me, all too well. "Oh, no, please, don't take it that way... I just meant that...it's, ah..." He sighed and gave a small laugh. "I guess today is just not an articulate day for me..." He brushed his fingers through his hair slowly and I was tempted to just rush forward and do the same...

"The truth is... I came here looking for the Elder Tancredo because...I was looking for somebody who could help me. I am going to the northern borders soon in lieu of being conscripted by His Majesty's Cavalry. However, I was hoping to have somebody escort me along the way...to help, I suppose... Unfortunately nobody back home wanted to go anywhere near the borders as they are terrified of the fighting. Since this town is also within my father's province, he suggested that I come to search for somebody who would be willing..." Gabriele trailed away after a while and began to look embarrassed, for I was looking at him with wide eyes and slightly-open mouth.

In an instant I bowed down lowly, taking a few steps back. "Oh, no, please don't! I have no need for such formalities," the Lord's heir said to me, but I knew my place and I was certain he did his. I took another step back as he approached and knelt down, head still bowed lowly. Of course I would not have recognized this man otherwise, as I have never been anywhere near His Lordship's home town. However, now that I did know...

"Please, I beg of you, you don't need to do this. It was much more comfortable talking with you without having your face hidden from me," Gabriele urged me. He was closer now, barely a step away from me. I closed my eyes and shook my head; I knew that the Elder would not look kindly on anybody who did not give their superiors due respect. A moment later, I felt his gentle fingers on my chin, lifting my face so that I could look up at his. He smiled. "There, you see...it's so much better when it's like this. Then I can see your face... It's easier to understand what you want to say that way," he murmured.

I tried to look away, but Gabriele's fingers held my chin firmly, and if he asked me to look at him, well...I had to obey his wish. So I stared up at him, almost becoming lost in the oceanic depths of his eyes. His lips were still carved in that beautiful curve that only seemed to make his blue orbs twinkle all the brighter. My own face was probably a horrendous shade of red.

"Tacito, if you would..." my Angel murmured in that low, sweet tone.

I stared up at him, unsure of what he would ask. My hand shook ever so slightly in trepidation as he leaned in closer, his face barely a hand's width from mine. That moment seemed to freeze in my mind; it seemed like all time had stopped with his hand on my chin, his marine eyes locked on mine, his beautiful lips curved up into a perfect smile...

It seemed like almost a day before I finally realized that my Angel was speaking again. At first the words wouldn't render properly in my mind, but after a moment of repeating them to myself, my eyes widened in surprise and glee.

"Would you bestow upon me the honour of being in your company when I travel to the northern border?"

I found I could only stare at him with my mouth open for a long moment. He seemed to watch me apprehensively, waiting for an answer. Was this a dream? It was too good to be true! My Angel was asking me to be with him!

How could I resist?

From the Author:

These were a couple characters I thought up abruptly, but alas, that means that plot is not too thickly laid out. I'm working on it, though, so hopefully there will be a meatier story coming up. (Basically, this is your warning that either this story will sink or swim, depending on how well I can put out ideas for it.)

Concerning the point of view...it'll alternate regularly between Tacito and Gabriele. Originally it was going to be completely from Tacito's point of view, but it's kind of fun to write his character from somebody else's view just because he don't say nuttin'. But at any rate...

Suggestions and thoughts welcome and appreciated!