Another Possibility
© slowdyingflower, 2004

She knows she cannot tell him.

She knows, even as she looks up at him, that were she to say the words aloud, that questioning look would be replaced by hatred and disgust, or at the very least, pity and discomfort. She doesn't think she can handle seeing any of those emotions cross his face, not when they'd be directed at her.

She knows she cannot tell him how she came to be with child. While it's true that they have already wed, she knows she would be placed back with her parents in a heartbeat (if they would have her) were he to find out the truth behind her baby's parentage.

He already knows it isn't his, of that she can be sure. Gentleman that he is, he never once tried to touch her before marriage, and in this short timespan of afterwards, she has found herself unable to accept it from anyone, no matter how proper it might now be.

She looks at him again, and her heart swells in spite of her helplessness and fear. She loves him more than she'd ever thought would be possible in a marriage that had been more of her parents' doing than hers. He looks a bit lost at the moment, but has not reached anger yet, and she knows he has come to love her just the same. She knows, just as surely as she knew when she first met him that he'd expressed his interest more for her dowry than for her, that he'd come to prize her above anything, and was therefore unable to immediately jump to the conclusion most other men would.

He holds her in great esteem, and more than that, he respects her – most rare for a man in this age. He would be well within his rights to demand her performance of the most intimate of her new wifely duties, and yet he has acquiesced to her every soft refusal with nothing but the utmost patience and grace. She knows, however, that as wonderful as he is and has been to her through their courtship and marriage, he would not hesitate to return her to her father and annul their vows were he to know that when she spoke them, she was not untouched.

She shivers now, almost imperceptibly as the injustice of her situation sets in. She had been chaste when she met him and had intended to remain so until they'd married. It was not her fault that some vagabond had snuck onto their land and hidden himself in their barn for the night. It was not her fault that she'd stumbled upon him in the early morning hours while going about her daily chores. It was not her fault that he'd been so much bigger than her, that as much as she'd fought and screamed and cried and begged, she hadn't been able to stop what had happened. None of it was her fault, she knew, but she also knew that others wouldn't think the same. She could only be grateful that he had left right afterwards, and she'd sworn to herself right then and there that she would never speak of it again.

She had immediately put it away, unwilling – and perhaps, unable – to even think of what had happened. Indeed, she could not even describe the event in her own thoughts, her mind settling on the vague, foreboding term, "what had happened" instead.

She looks down, unable to meet his eyes, and instead takes in his hands where they fall at his sides with a slight fidget that she knows is unconscious. A bolt of longing sweeps through her, and she remembers a time when she was entranced by those hands, and images of what they could do to her. She remembers the flustered yearning she felt whenever he would place her hand in his when they went walking together, and a rush of sadness chases the longing at what has been so unfairly stolen away.

She had wanted to forget what had happened, as if erasing the event from her mind could erase it from her reality as well. Now, of course, she knows it is impossible. She will never be rid of her memories, so long as the life forced inside of her grows.

She puts a palm to her stomach, her thoughts jumbled and flying because she knows that while she is angry at the unplanned reminder and what it could do to the rest of her life, she cannot be angry at the child itself. Impossibly, she finds a love in her heart for it that rivals that for her husband. It is innocent, as she was, and she wants to protect that for it as she couldn't protect her own.

He clears his throat quietly, and she obediently raises her head, eyes meeting his as he speaks again, "How did this happen?" He asks, repeating his original question, and she is caught by the sadness in his voice, and the vulnerability in his expression that she should not have been allowed to see. In that moment, she cannot bear to tell him – not only for the affect it will have on her, but because she finds herself overwhelmed by a fierce, urgent need to protect him as well. She does not deserve what happened to her, but neither does he. And if she can spare him the pain she has been feeling, get him to accept and raise this child with her... is it wrong to try to make something good come out of something evil?

He touches her cheek, a light brush of fingertips to capture her attention, "Mary?" He gently calls to her, leaving the rest of his already repeated question unsaid. She worries her lip as she gazes into that confused, yet absurdly, still trusting gaze. She is taken in by the seemingly endless faith he apparently has in her, even in the face of what must appear to be such an obvious betrayal. He loves her too much to want to consider it an option. He wants another explanation, and she will do her best to give him one.

"I don't know, Joseph." She finally whispers, still hesitant, yet continuing quickly before he has the chance to form a response, "But, I had this dream..." She says, almost wondrously, and a legend is born.