One thing that is important to know about Aiden is that he lives on Memory Lane. He is fueled by thoughts of his past, even though he swears up and down that he is unaffected by events prior to the present. But that is because he is a liar. He spends most, if not all of his time alone thinking on the years that have gone by, how they could have gone differently, and why they caused him to be what he is.
So today, I’ll give you a little bit of memory music and, since I haven’t in a while, a little scene to go with. I don’t have an exact place for this moment yet, but it will find its way.
A Message for the Queen (Remembering Marietta) from the film 300.
It reminded him of her. Of course it did. Everything reminded him of her. Aiden pushed his fingers into his hair and stared out into the night. It was cold outside and there was a steady breeze up on the roof that brought a chill to his bones, but still he sat there almost unmoving.
It had been ten years to the day tonight. Had he been a better man he would have been married for ten years tonight. He would have had a son. He’d be six.
Aiden had no desire for children and it was easy to say he didn’t even like them, but like every man, he had pride, and a part of upholding said pride is to bear a son. Children weren’t children for long (he certainly wasn’t) so for the short while that he had to deal with the screaming brat didn’t seem too bad in comparison to the glory that his son would carry on in his name.
Marietta wouldn’t have made a good mother. She wasn’t loving or tender towards children. She didn’t have any desire to destroy her perfect figure or to soil her hands with the dirty work of caring for a baby, but that was what nurses and governesses were for.
That would be it. One child. One son. Their life would have forever consisted of glittering balls, silks, feasts, flashing lights and the whirling, dizzying lifestyle of those most fortunate. He would have provided all of that for her. If there were anything that she ever felt a need for, she would have it. She was his sun, his center, his hope. She had been the only person that ever showed how much she truly cared, that she was honest and good to him, for him, that she was his forever, that she’d never leave like the others had.
But she lied.
So here he was, ten years later on the rooftop of a hidden house, still wondering why. He had it all. He did it all. Why would she leave him? It had been an entire decade and still he wanted to know. He couldn’t live without knowing. Not knowing is what had driven him to become what he was. Aiden Finnegan, The Black Duke. The Black Duke wasn’t a duke at all, but a man who once had the entire world at his disposal. Now he was left with nothing of his own. Now everything came with strings.
He remembered her face. He remembered the way she smiled at him and the way her bottom lip pulled down when she was worried. He remembered seeing her angry. There was something about her when she was angry that he found himself unable to resist. Marietta didn’t have hurricane like fits or large sweeping rants. She was quiet and icy, malicious and cruel. If ever there were a woman who used her position to gain advantage over her enemies, it was Marietta Grace.
But even as similar to Aiden as she was, that wasn’t the reason he loved her. Aiden loved Marietta because in his lowest of lows, she had been there to pick him up, to hold him and whisper her ever gentle, ‘I won’t leave you.’: the mantra that he clung to.
Even as a child she had understood him. She knew to tread delicately around his sour being and never did she consider speaking out of line. She sat before him, stitching lace or practicing her handwriting while she listened to him. Sometimes he wouldn’t say anything at all and neither would she. Simply being in the same room as her gave him peace of mind.
Marietta never challenged him. Aiden’s word was absolute and she knew it. She never whined, complained of even pouted unless the soft change in facial expression was carried out with intent to seduce him. She knew her place (naked, beneath him) and never thought to test it.
As a younger man, Aiden had been cocky. He wasn’t stupid. but he had been too self absorbed in his misery, and confident in his power to realize that there were bigger things going on than his fame and fortune.
Poor bastard. 😦