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Authors Chapter Notes:
An historical fic set in the period I know best. Hope you enjoy
For my new friend Linda, I hope she's reading. she really made my day, please review, they mean so much to the authors and it only takes a minute

William liked the routine of the monastery in Lindisfarne; the order of the days made sense to him. The ‘scritch-scritch-scritch’ of goose feather quill on vellum as he worked was soothing to his soul. The peace and tranquillity permeated every part of his day; hushed voices of monks did little to break the silence. He could hear the bell calling for Vespers from where he was working in the scriptorium. Time to finish the letter he was illuminating and head for chapel. He carefully lay down his small knife and his quill, covered his ink pot, noticing it was getting empty and would have to be refilled before he could do anything else on his page of vellum. The colours would be put on later by the artists: they would add the vibrant and rare paints that brought the book to life. It was to be a gift for one of the Franco kings from the King of Wessex, a kingly gift and so must be perfect.

It had been three years since he’d been sent to live here in the community of brothers, and he had to make up his mind soon as to whether to take his vows or stay a lay brother. He thought back to his own brother’s hall. It had been hard being the youngest and smallest of five. His mother the Lady Anne had kept him close. He often spent the day in her company, helping with her books or simply talking with her.

His brothers all had served: first their father, then when Lord Stephen had died from fever his eldest son, Harold, had taken the Lord’s chair, making William’s life even harder. They were all warrior through and through. William could fight of course: he was skilled, he was a noble, but he preferred to read or to hunt. He saw little fun in hitting other people just for fun.

None of them liked the quite studious William, who learnt his latin and to read and write. He could figure his numbers, and didn’t join in the rough and tumble of their fights. They called him William the Bloody Awful Fighter and teased and bullied him whenever they could. His clothes were all passed down to him, he ate at a lower table, his place wasn’t kept. The only thing that had kept him sane at all was his friendship with Brother Giles, his mother’s confessor, and his mother. The Lady Anne had served Athelflaed the Lady of Mercia before her marriage and she was well read. She had as many as thirty books in her library, and William had loved reading from them, aloud when his mother was unwell. But her illness had passed and there was the problem of William. A lady in her service had caught his eye: she was fair and young, but cruel. Lady Cecily had not wanted anything to do with the youngest son of a minor lord: she had her eyes set higher than him. Her obvious antipathy for the young William had sealed his fate, and he had been sent away to the church. He was fit for nothing else according to his second brother, Liam. He hated Liam with a passion. Liam who had beaten him up regularly, who took all his pleasure from life, Liam who teased him because he had never forced one of the serving girls to pleasure him. William felt it was a sacred act between husband and wife, as it said in The Bible, and not a common indulgence to be pandered to every time a pretty girl caught your eye. His wicked ways were well known and many fathers sent their daughters away if Lord Liam of Wessex was coming to stay.

William re-fastened the belt on his brown robe and slipped his feet more firmly into his shoes. The rough wool itched his skin even though he still had the luxury of a linen undershirt. The whole lot stank as well. He had always been fastidious in his bathing, washing his hands and face every day and his body at least once a year, but sometimes the smell from his more fragrant brothers got a little too much. He would have to ask forgiveness for that during confession.

The wooden building holding the scriptorium was cold and the door stuck on wet days. William pushed hard against it to get it to open. It was raining hard and the evening was dull; it would be dark early tonight, a taste of the long winter to come. His cousin Tara waved to him as she hurried across the open courtyard to the fine stone built church that dominated the Holy Island. It was one of the most beautiful and wealthiest in the area. Many rich nobles made the journey across the treacherous tidal causeway, to say their prayers and leave offering to the church. The Abbot was wealthy and powerful, the buildings filled with gold and silver, the guest house filled with Lords and their ladies on pilgrimage. William kept well out of their way. He had little time for the likes of them, reminding him so much of his brothers.

The fire was lit in the refectory. He could see the smoke curling into the heavy night sky. They had important guests again tonight, it had often been busy over the summer, but most would now leave and leave them all to the solitude of Lindisfarne until the weather was fit for travelling again. He could see Tara was amongst the Ladies as they hurried to the chapel: then there would be a meal, then to service again, then bed, in his cold cell. It was the routine he had become used to in the last three years.

Tara seemed happy chatting to the other ladies. She was here until the last arrangements could be made for her marriage, it ensured that she would be pure, and kept her away from the young bucks at court. Tara had been delighted to find her older cousin William was there. It was a familiar face from home.

Tara had enjoyed her months on the Holy Island. It had taken her three weeks to travel there from her Father’s hall, and she had been scared when she first saw the Causeway flood; but the other women had been friendly to the young Noblewoman, and Tara had loved working in the gardens and at her embroidery. She, like William, loved the ordered life and she was seriously thinking about asking permission to stay as a novice and take her vows. She didn’t think it was likely she would be allowed: her father had great plans for her marriage. Some elderly lord who could secure him a place at court; ‘oh well, the older the husband the younger the widow’, her mother had always said.

They made their way to the Refectory. The bread was already set out on the tables, as were the jugs of ale. Wooden cups and plates lay ready for use and William could smell the stew heading in from the kitchens. In honour of their guests, they had meat in the stew. It was thick and wholesome, and there was enough to stop the hunger. The plates on the high table were filled more generously than those in front of the likes of him, but William hadn’t been hungry since he came here. He waited ‘til one of the monks started reading from the bible and then everyone started in eating. The wooden spoon scraped his teeth but he kept eating. Food was not so plentiful that he was going to leave any.

The bread was thick and black; up on the high table, they had the paler white bread and the uppercrust of the rougher loaves.

After the evening meal they all made their way to their beds. William’s small cell was cold and his cot tiny, but he wrapped himself up in his blanket and fell quickly to sleep. He knew Tara shared a bed with one of the other Ladies who was under the care of the Abbot.

The next day was the same. Day in and day out the routine was maintained. The only day of rest from the Scriptorium was Sunday, and that day he spent all day at prayer.

They were coming from Chapel when the warning bell started. Dark sails had been spotted: Northmen were attacking. There were few warriors or fighters to help protect the women. They were screaming as the first of the enemy were seen pulling up boats onto the beach below the monastery. The full moon had produced an extremely high tide allowing them closer to the safe haven. The abbot was hurrying the nobles into his own rooms and the doors would be barred, in hope that when they arrived the Northmen would steal what they wanted and leave.

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