Page 179: Aftermaths
Summary: Hardwicke and Belle yell.
Date: January 12, 2012
Related Logs: Directly following Bump in the Night and The Battle Ebbs.
Hardwicke Belle 
A Hallway — Four Eagles Tower
Someplace small and out of the way.
January 12, 289

Hardwicke does not go to the entrance hall of the castle as instructed. Instead, he pulls Belle along to a smaller hallway nearby, one that doesn't see much activity during the most bustling hour of the day, and thus is deserted now. He turns on her quite suddenly and without warning, his anger quite clear despite his effort at stifling it. "You will not do that again."

With a quick yank and twist, Belle removes her arm from his grasp. "I apologized to your stupid lord for calling out his stupid — stupidness!" Fury is the enemy of eloquence, even in one so nimble-tongued as Belle Beckett. "Of course I won't do it again!"

"You will not do any of it, Belle," Hardwicke says, voice rising to a snap. "You will not be there when these things are happening, you will get back when I tell you to, and you will not argue with me in front of my men and my lord." She may have pulled her arm from it, but his fingers still curl and clench as if expelling anger on something no longer within his grasp.

Belle lifts her chin, trembling with anger, pale with it, fists clenched at her sides. "You cannot tell me not to defend my home," she says in a low voice. "If you still mean it to be my home. Rather, you can tell me, but it will avail you nothing." One point at a time. She takes another deep breath, nostrils flaring. "I did get back, thank you, my lord. If it was not far enough back, that is another matter." For the last, however, she drops her gaze to the floor, fingers uncurling. "I will not argue with you in front of your men and your lord. I — have no desire to shame you. I was… it was a…" She doesn't look up at him again, but seems suddenly beyond speech, swallowing a lump in her throat.

"It was your soft heart thinking you know better about Howell for having met him once, and thinking all the rest of us idiots unable to judge him," Hardwicke continues, momentum still gathering. "I am not an idiot, Belle. I am a man doing his duty, and I cannot do it with you standing there waiting for you to get killed. I can't fight when I am worried that one slip of my blade will mean your death right behind me."

"I don't think you're an idiot!" Belle fires back, eyes snapping up again, all fire. "I think you've been Lady Terrick's man all your life and Captain of the Guard a few weeks — and I don't think you know that boy any better than I do! But I know decade and more of good service in this house — one that has given him NO cause to love it, beat him for his loyalty — if he were going to betray or escape this place, he'd have done it long ago and you'd all have deserved it!" There are tears in her eyes now, but they're borne of rage. "You've no idea what it is to be an outcast, to be presumed — wretched and spat upon — none! Who defends Raffton Howell from those who'd accuse him even as he bleeds for you ingrates? Soft hearted? It is not especially soft, I assure you — perhaps you're confused because I have one."

"And I don't," Hardwicke concludes with a finality thick with frustrated anger. His fingers close about her arm again, but it is to pull her closer while he presses in with sudden need to find her mouth with his, his body desperate and urgent and furious.

She fights him only for an instant — and then her kiss answers his, all wrath and lust and fierce, furious life. She tastes of tears and blood, raw salt mingled with the succulent sweetness that is simply her. She bites him and scores him with her nails, hopping up to wrap her legs around him, still kissing him, passion violent and primal as a storm at sea.

It is over so quickly — an unlacing here, a fumbling there, a slip and a gasp — but it leaves him close and breathless and shuddering against her. Some tension has unknit, but there still simmers below the unresolved and unspoken. Hardwicke says nothing against the warmth of her skin.

Belle leans back, catching her breath — flushed, lips swollen with the unhinged, heedless violence of their kissing. Her legs want to give out, trembling and barely supporting her once unwrapped from Hardwicke; she decides to let them, sliding down the wall to sit in the puddle of her skirts, legs akimbo. "We should fuck like that when we're not furious with one another," she notes, almost — almost — tonelessly… save for the very thin, dry thread of humor.

Hardwicke looks down at her, her humor not finding ready response in the quiet conflict of his face. Then he says, "I need to get this patched up." Then, after a long moment of watching her, he says, "Don't tell me I don't have a heart, Belle."

She turns her blue eyes up to look at him, then shakes her head very slightly. "You know I didn't mean that," she says, softly. But, after a moment, she reaches up for his hand. "I will try not to say things I don't mean," she promises. "It's a rare thing for me, and almost always in anger." A beat. "I'm sorry."

He shakes his head to the apology, but takes her hand in his right to draw her up to her feet. Hardwicke opens his mouth as if to say more, then closes it, shakes his head again, and turns to the way back to the entrance hall, where hopefully a maester awaits.