The river played melodies that surely only she could hear. For no one else seemed to understand its magical hold over her. She lay there for hours, letting the songs fill her with a strange sense of calm. They eased the aching in her bones; at times even her blood seemed to course through her veins with a dull thud. This music released her. Her left hand rested gently on her swollen belly while the right trailed in the cool water. The deeper she dipped her fingers, the louder the song became. How wondrous, she thought of it, and how strange. A voice, deep yet somehow lilting, broke the spell of her river melody. She opened her eyes. "Can you hear it?"

A man stood several yards away, half hidden by trees and shadow. When she said nothing, he repeated himself, "Can you hear it?" His words joined the melody as the song picked up again.

"Pardon?" She replied softly, heaving herself onto her elbows and then slowly pulling herself into a sitting position. Both her hands now sat upon her stomach, one leaving a hand-shaped mark in water on her homespun dress.

"The river, does it sing to you as it does to me?" He walked closer to her, counting the steps as he went. She watched in fascination, he was like no man she'd ever seen. Cleaner, perhaps. She'd have to look at his fingernails when he was close enough, if he ever got that close. She searched for a word to describe him, but they all seemed to fall flat. Handsome couldn't encompass it, and gorgeous didn't sound right. Those words just sat on her tongue. Was it strange to call a man beautiful? For that was the only word that she thought she could speak about him. She stayed silent, though, and he continued. "At night, even when I'm far away, I can hear it calling to me."

When he smiled at her, she dropped her eyes. As improper as this meeting was, she felt too safe and too enchanted to leave. The river's spell, she mused. "I thought only I could hear it. My husband said I was mad, and Father McGuire said it was Satan playing tricks on me, making me hear things when there wasn't anything to hear." She paused and licked the dryness from her lips, "But I said to him that only Our Father could make music so lovely." Embarrassed, she pushed her hair back from her forehead. He was only a foot away now, taking tiny steps towards her. She tried to stand, but her legs wavered. He extended a smooth hand.

His nails were clean; she smiled broadly.

"I'm glad to have a companion in it, or to give you one." His voice was like the river: melodic, magical. She peered more closely at him. He was a head and a half taller than she was, and his dark hair fell in slight curls just past his ears. His skin was fair and soft, she assumed- as she had not touched his face- like a girl's would be. The way his clothes hung on his frame hinted at muscles. Not the sturdy and roped muscles of her husband, but something more elegant. She trailed her gaze slowly from the crown of his head to the tips of his shoes. She drank him in. His eyes were the most peculiar of all though, like pools of liquid silver with unnaturally black pupils. When she met them, she felt her face warm.

A scolding was what she needed and though she tried to provide one for herself, it proved difficult. A married woman, soon to be a mother, it would be a scandal if I were found talking to some stranger in the wood. A man, no less! How she wished to be safe at home! But the more the man spoke, and the longer she spent with him, the louder and stronger the river's song seemed to become, "I do thank you, sir, but I should be returning now. My husband will worry if I'm not home by dark." She stepped away from him.

His ever-present smile turned into a frown and he met her stride, cutting her off before she could get away from him, "Aye, he will."

"So I must bid you farewell and…" What had she been saying? This music, it seemed to crescendo, the pace picking up, "I didn't dance on my wedding day." As though she was wrapped up in the song, she felt her arms begin to sway. She watched him; his strange and beautiful face was blank.

"What a pity; one as beautiful as you should have been granted her every request." His voice seemed so familiar, so sweet. He took her hand, the one that had been in the water only a few minutes beforehand, and held it tightly.

From under her lashes she glanced up at him, "But my husband is not one for dancing." Her rounded belly hindered any closeness they could have shared; she twirled softly to the music in her head, he moved in time with her. Dusk began to steal the light from the wood; slowly peeling it away in layers until only a dim glow remained. It seemed, she thought for a moment, that the man was the sole source of this light. His silvery eyes smiled at her. A wind began to pick up.

"And look what he has done to you." With a jerk of his chin he gestured to her stomach and shook his head with a sigh.

"Oh no, I'm happy to be having a child; he will love me then," she stopped, though the man continued to dance, despite having no partner. She began to walk away from him again, though this time she felt as though she were being pulled back towards him, back into the melody, "Perhaps he will dance with me when I give him a son."

He pitied her, her naïveté and her lack of sense. He took hold of her hands again, and the dance continued. She seemed like a small child, young and too hopeful for her own good, "He won't. He can't love you, you'll bear him children and cook his suppers and mend his trousers. You will be his wife, but nothing more."

"But what if that is all there is? To be his wife and to bear him sons. And if it isn't, how could you know that, you don't know who we are. He will love me when I give him a child, or I shall… I don't know, I don't know. But the Good Lord says that if we…" She felt ill and wonderful all at the same time. Every word she tried to speak was lost on her lips. What had He said? Why couldn't she remember? "I don't know anymore, I can't see it anymore!" Her worries were bubbling up in her throat now, and she could feel her breathing quicken. "Where has my music gone?" She asked, suddenly frantic; she spun around, searching for the source. The one hand he still held was growing damp with worry, "But my child." She ran her fingers across her stomach, trailing them lightly.

"I can help you." He soothed her. His words fell like warm honey, slowly wrapping around her. Her breathing began to settle, and he said it again and again. He was just repeating it, "I can help you. I can help you." His voice grew so soft that she had to lean in to hear him.

She blinked twice, then again, and shuddered, "I don't understand…"

"Don't you?" He asked. His face was close to hers, and she could feel his breath against her cheek. Warm and sweet.

Her eyelids fluttered and suddenly she felt as though she were floating. It was forgotten, all of it. She had no name, no wants; there was no child, no husband. All she knew was that she could hear a song, playing lightly in the back of her mind. Maybe she was remembering something from her childhood? Had she been a child? She could not picture it. The more she thought, the less she knew, and soon she could only think of two words. Her lips curved sweetly, "My love," she whispered. And he smiled, though she would never see it.

*****

When they came to tell him, three days later, he sank to his knees and cried. They'd found her, the men had said. His young wife, as beautiful as ever, floating several miles down the river that wound through the woods. She drowned? But they said no. It seemed as though she was only sleeping, peaceful, but dead. Were they certain? The men nodded. He asked about the child; if it was still living or if he'd have two to bury. But the men who'd come to him looked at the husband and shook their heads. There wasn't any child. Had she given birth? The husband asked, and again they shook their heads. She was slender as a maid; there was no sign of any child or any birth. When they left they sighed, puzzled over the strange man who'd imagined his wife with child, but pitying him nonetheless. In his home, alone with his grief, the husband wondered if he could hear it too, the river's song. Sometimes, when he couldn't sleep, he'd wander to the river and watch it flow lazily. In the darkness his loneliness felt unbearable. But light would come and slowly filter through the cover of the trees and he'd think he could go on for another day.

*****

One hundred years and one hundred sorrows passed, and a woman screamed in anguish. For time, and memory, and desire are fickle things, are they not?

AN: Hello all, thanks so much for reading my first chapter of my new story. It has a few elements of an old story of mine, Sames, but for the most part is a new piece. I'm not quite sure where the idea came from, other than the first image: the pregnant woman by the river, and the last line. Hope you enjoy and keep reading, please review and let me know of any comments/criticisms/suggestions.