Basket on one hip, Irene approached slowly, careful not spill her load of clean clothes. "Yes?" she asked.
"Oh, come, Irene. It's Easter. Aren't you happy?"
Irene's lips twisted at the reminder of the Christian holiday, the perversion of her Beltane. This would be the third abomination she was forced to celebrate with her captors. "Yes," she answered, pretending her baring of teeth was a smile. The vapid woman would probably believe it. "Of course."
"Do you have the holiday bread ready? I'm sure Christian will want it."
Irene closed her eyes and cursed quietly. "I haven't. I've been working on the feast. I have the hart." She had shot the animal with her own arrow and drained him as these fool Christians liked it, without the strength of the blood. Instead, she'd saved the nutritious fluid, drinking it herself in small doses. It satisfied a craving she'd never had before. Probably the result of eating their food all this time.
The animal was behind their house, wrapped in her herb mixture. Enough people had eaten her roasts that everyone was looking forward to her contribution and main course at the feast to celebrate their unbelievable holiday.
Christian had made sure she attended mass every Sunday, and she sat silently, spiteful. Their beliefs were backward, contradictory, and simply impractical. Their god, corporeal, was ritually killed? And came back to life? It was ludicrous. She feigned belief and observed all their rituals. She had learned to bend as Aunt Aine had told her. She could fake anything now, but hadn't fallen far enough to believe her own lies.
At last, they would pay off. Among her herbs was one she didn't use, one her mother had taught her to avoid, one that would make the meat poisonous to anyone who ate it. She had been ill a few times in the last few days, a strange sickness that came and went without warning. It wouldn't be odd to anyone when she missed the feast.
"Irene? Did you hear me?" She hadn't. She had stopped paying the woman any mind. "You can have one of mine."
Irene's grimace turned to an honest smile. "You have an extra?" she asked.
"I do." Mary smiled brightly. "You really have become one of us, haven't you? I feel like you and I are so much closer than before. Maybe it's because we have something in common?"
Irene's brow furrowed. What did she have in common with the shorter, rounder, darker woman?
"The illness. You haven't figured out what it is?" Mary had been taking ill in the mornings lately, a sure sign she was with child.
Irene dropped her basket, clothing falling out onto the ground.
"Oh! Irene!" Mary dropped to her knees to pick it up, but Irene clutched her belly, her traitorous body. How dare it carry Christian's child when it never held Owen's?
As soon as the laundry was assembled, Mary rose and hugged Irene. "You didn't know? Isn't it wonderful? Our babes will be born together."
Irene shook and the silly chit took it as excitement. "Yes. Wonderful," she echoed, falling back to her standby. Mimicking had taken her far in this village, won her this friend.
"Come back to my place. I'll give you the bread." Irene followed, eyes glazed. A child? Why? Why now? She was almost free.