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Get to know Dafydd

Most people who send me feedback for The King's Tale tell me that they love Dafydd, as he is such a gentle and beautiful soul. In some ways he is a contradiction. He is large, powerful, and yet he gives himself completely to King Christopher. He is not disingenuous at all, and although he keeps his innermost thoughts to himself, his emotions are plainly evident.

Dafydd is a lover of life. He felt a deep bond between himself and the king, even before they met. In his words a sprite visited him in his dreams and drew his steps unwaveringly from Wales to Cornwall, and thus King Christopher.

Here is an excerpt from The King's Tale where he tells Christopher of his early life.

The sky was a brilliant blue as they rode along the high ridge. It was half a day's journey from the castle to the path that led down to the beach. They had let the horses run, the wind whipped against their faces. The air was brisk, but neither noticed the cold.
Christopher led the way down the steep path. Once at the bottom they walked their horses across the smooth white sand. The waves broke in a long line, white foam skidded across the beach, the gulls cried at the interruption.

"A race to the end, and then back again," Christopher said, his words tossed into the wind.
Dafydd turned and began the charge down the beach; the sand flew up from under his horse's hooves. Christopher wasted no time in following him, raced fast enough to overtake him.

Dafydd dug his heels in against his horse's heaving sides, and as they turned to begin the race back to the starting point he nosed ahead. They arrived back neck and neck.

"Too close to call," Christopher shouted breathlessly as he pulled the reins back and slipped from the horse's back.

Dafydd pulled up, turned, walked back, and then slipped down to join Christopher on the sand, "Nay my king, I believe you have won."

Christopher reached for Dafydd's hand and pulled him close, "Aye," he said, his lips hovered over Dafydd's, "I have won." He deepened the kiss, and loosened his hand on the reins. The horses wandered off to crop the dense beach grass that grew next to the cliffs.

Together Dafydd and Christopher walked closer to the water's edge. The wind whipped the hair back from their faces as they stood hand in hand looking out over the wild waves. They stood for several moments in silent meditation, felt as though the world had narrowed down to just the two of them.

Eventually they began to wander along the shore, headed for a protected cove where they ate their lunch. Neither said much, both lost in private thoughts. When the meal was ended, Christopher stretched out on his back, hands folded on his chest. Dafydd licked his fingers clean, then stretched out beside the king with his head rested against his side.

"Tell me a dream Dafydd," Christopher said softly, "A wish, an inspiration, a memory."

"A memory," Dafydd said softly, "Of walking along the shore with my mother. We collected driftwood, and I found a shell that was tinged pink inside. I gave it to her, and she smiled. We brought the wood back to the keep, and the shell was gone. Dropped out of her arms as we walked. I ran back to find it, but 'twas gone."

Christopher dropped an arm down to rest across Dafydd's chest. "You haven't told me much of your past."

Dafydd sighed. "There is not much to tell. I was the fourth son of seven children, five boys and two girls. Rhys is the oldest and heir, Owain is next, and he holds mother's dower lands. Meical is a priest, there was no room for me." He was silent for a moment. "I learned warfare with my brothers, yet was not needed in my father's quest to keep his small estate. When I reached manhood, it was time for me to move on, to make my way in the world somewhere other than home." He turned, met the king's eyes.

"Training in militia is rare to come by, you could have taken on as a mercenary. Many a noble would have been proud to have you fight alongside him," Christopher said.

"Aye, but such was not my way. I learned rough and tumble with my brothers, yet at heart I craved peace. I am not one to make war, for the sake of making war."

"I have no wish to force you into my service," Christopher said as he tightened his arm across Dafydd's chest.

Dafydd was silent for a moment, then spoke with measured words. "In my youth I thought I would stand beside my family, help my father protect what was ours. When he said he had no use for another mouth to feed, I set out on my own. I came to Lysnowydh and sought solitary work, collecting wood." He raised his hand and covered the king's arm. "My allegiance is firmly with you now my king. Standing shoulder to shoulder with you is what I want. I have left my family behind."

"Do you miss them?" Christopher asked quietly.

"Aye," Dafydd replied, "But I hold no ill feelings. Such is the way for a younger son, 'twas misguided for me to have expected otherwise."

"I speak not as the king, but as a man. I was the only living child born to my mother and father, and it was assured that I would one day become king." He sighed. "The crown is heavy on my head betimes, my father was taken before his time." He reached down for Dafydd's hand, twined their fingers together. "You are a very welcome addition to my household, your shoulder fits well alongside my own. Your presence makes the weight a little easier to bear."
Dafydd smiled. "You bear the weight on your own Christopher, with or without me. I am satisfied to be a member of your household."

Christopher smiled. "I hope you are more than just satisfied." He rose and kissed Dafydd. The kiss was sweet, tinged with salt air.

Soon after it was time to return to the castle. As they walked along the beach, Christopher gazed down intently at the shells. At last he stooped to pick one up. He caught up with Dafydd and deposited it in his hand with a smile, then turned and swung up on his horse.
Dafydd turned the shell over in his hand and found it was tinged pink inside. He looked over at Christopher, but he already picked his way up the path. Dafydd put the shell in the pouch that hung at his waist, mounted his horse, and followed Christopher up the path.

Dafydd was cautious with his declaration of love for the king, and yet Christopher saw it plainly in his eyes, felt it in his touch. It is that night, after the confidences on the beach, that Dafydd is at last able to confess his love for the king. He says the emotion was crystalized for him that day.

Later in the story Dafydd and Christopher recite vows to one another on the same beach...

"We have come full circle. In your small cottage my love for you was born, and in that cottage I declared my intention to make you mine forever." He turned to look up into Dafydd's face. "Upon this beach your love was crystallized, and upon this beach we declare our vows for one another."

Dafydd smiled, and inclined his head in agreement. Christopher turned, and with their hands still joined, led him to an outcropping of rocks. The sun had burned away the morning gloom, and shone brightly upon the spot. They turned to face one another, keeping their hands joined.

"Tomorrow the words will be brief," Christopher said. "Though permission is given for our union, it can not be performed in holy church, and will not include all the words a priest would normally say. 'Tis just a ceremony to bind us each to the other. I would repeat the words to you now as you might know that to me you are mine in the eyes of Christ our father, as well I add the words that are meant for your ears alone. Though they be writ on parchment, I speak them from my memory."

The sun shone upon them, the sound of the sea was a gentle punctuation as Christopher began to speak again.

"I take thee Dafydd, to be my wedded mate, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, through all the days of my life 'til death depart us. I promise, to honor and respect you, to listen as you speak. I promise to hold you, and cherish you, forsaking all others. I give you this pledge, and with this token claim you for mine." Christopher loosed his hands from Dafydd's, and reached inside the front of his tunic. "Kneel before me cariad."

Dafydd lowered to his knees and gasped as Christopher withdrew a golden circlet studded with rough jewels. He lowered the circlet over Dafydd's head, left his warm hands upon Dafydd's temple. "When you rise, you will be the ruler of my heart, my king as I am yours. I love you Dafydd, this day and always."

Overcome with an emotion that was hard to name, Dafydd felt tears sting at his eyes. He swayed upon his knees for a moment, then slowly arose. He reached for Christopher's hands again, cleared his throat, and spoke softly yet clearly.

[a.n. I have translated this from the Welsh that appears in the book for simplicity's sake]

"I Dafydd take you Christopher, as my husband, in sickness and health, for richer for poorer, as long as we both shall live." He loosed his hand from Christopher's and reached into the purse that hung at his waist. "Receive this ring, as a token of my love and faithfulness. I worship you with my body and share all my goods with you," he placed a simple silver ring adorned with heart knots upon Christopher's left hand. "Art truly the king of my heart, and soul, and all of my world." He raised Christopher's hand and pressed his lips against the simple sliver band. "I love you Christopher, beunydd."

Dafydd carried the shell that Christopher gave him on the day they handfasted...

Now Christopher chuckled as he picked up each item of clothing in turn to hand to Dafydd. Both were dressed simply this day in chausses, cotton shirts covered with leather jerkins, and old worn boots. Christopher picked up Dafydd's belt, and opened the purse before he handed it over. He gasped softly as he unearthed the shell.

"You still have this?" he asked.

"Aye," Dafydd replied. After he fastened the belt he took the shell from Christopher, caressed it reverently with his thumb and returned it to its place upon the hearth. "I carried it with me yesterday. For luck that I did not need."

Christopher caught Dafydd in an embrace when he turned back. "Another mystery Dafydd," he said as he laid his cheek against Dafydd's chest. "A trinket I gift to you on a whim, and you make it into so much more."

"There is little I take lightly Christopher," Dafydd said. "Especially where you are concerned."

"Ah cariad, how I love you," Christopher tipped his head back for a kiss.

I have found The King's Tale on two Listopia lists at GoodReads. One is "Cinderfellas" and the other is "Virginal Characters". Dafydd was a virgin the first time he shared a bed with Christopher. It is the Cinderfella list that intrigues me, because that description fits him to a "t". The book is high on that list, due in part to my green-ness with GoodReads. I accidentally voted for it myself.

If you're curious, take a look. I'm sure Dafydd would welcome additional votes. ^^