Strange, is it not, how quick we are to believe those things we wish to be true and to disregard those we would prefer to disbelieve? I gave little credence to the witch’s prophecy that I would meet my doom in an encounter with Lycanon. This I dismissed as a product of deviltry and as such, by its very nature, suspect. Yet I put full faith in her guarantees that the potion would grant me three good decades of life free of my curse. As it turned out, I would have done better by doubting the latter and paying heed to the former—but that story in its due course. For the time, I had the weight of personal experience to attest to the efficacy of the witch’s potion, and I welcomed it with gladness and thanksgiving as a cure to my malady.
I began, then, the happiest portion of my life.
I married Samaethea as my first action upon my return to the village. The ceremony, if one could consider it as such, consisted of Dalmontenes, the Chieftain, asking me if I wanted Samaethea as a bride. Under ordinary circumstances she would have had no say in the matter, but I wanted her given that choice. She had been forced to play the strumpet by Valsalvas as his property. For my part, I would see her honored as my wife. The look in her eyes that day, eyes that threatened tears yet radiated happiness as bright as the sun overhead, the smile on her face that seemed such a part of her being that it would never fade or lessen—I will never forget that look. Never before or since, and never again in this life, has anyone looked on me with such undiluted adoration. Yes, Samaethea had grown to love me, a love so complete as to seem divine.
“Do you want him for your husband?” Dalmontenes had asked her.
“Yes!” she’d answered, making the word sound almost as a plea.
“Do you, Reprobus, want her as wife?”
“Then you are married.”
This constituted the entirety of the ceremony. No pomp or pageantry accompanied it, no feast or dancing. I daresay, however, it sufficed. For me I can attest; I believe it served for my bride as well. No longer property but mate, and this by her own choosing. I know she was happy. And though she had at the outset been for me only a replacement for my lost Kethryn, soon enough my feelings for Samaethea grew until she held preeminence in my heart. And though our marriage must remain one without offspring—I dared not have a child, lest it prove a son who would inherit my curse—our union nonetheless proved a joyous one. Although circumstances forced me into the practice of Onanism [Editor’s Note: This word, biblical in origin, today carries a double meaning, first as a definition for masturbation, but also the act of a male withdrawing from a woman during intercourse before he reaches climax, thus greatly reducing the risk of an unwanted pregnancy; it is the latter use of the term that Christopher intends here.] our wedding bed remained no less heated. I regretted that my bride would bear no children, for her sake, but Samaethea told me that she had twice conceived during her time with Valsalvas, and both times he had forced her to take a draught which caused her to miscarry. The old midwife in the village, who had prepared for her the concoction, had told her after the second time that she might not again prove able to conceive, so perhaps it was just as well.
“It doesn’t matter,” Samaethea told me. “I have you. It is enough.”
My beloved, my bride, how I hope that proved true.