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A Moment to Breathe

 
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:37 am    Post subject: A Moment to Breathe Reply with quote

((Contains reference to adult situations.))

One of the marvels that was utterly unexpected about Avalon in this time was the contents of the third room in the little guest cottage where Ian and Aurelia were staying. No modern convenience, naturally, but a stone bath, sunk into the smooth rock floor, fed by natural hot water that cycled in and out constantly. It was the perfect gift after the day Ian had endured, and Aurelia was quick to make use of it. She sat on the edge in just her shift, the skirt up about her hips to keep it dry, and gently smoothed the tension from his shoulders as he lolled in the water itself, thumbs and fingers working to ease his body as they talked. "Nothing that is happening here is your sole responsibility, mon cœur," she told him gently. "You cannot take it all upon your own shoulders."

He had grudgingly accepted the offer of a bath, more to please her than due to any desire of his own, and yet, once he had immersed himself in the hot, soothing water and felt her fingers working the tension from his shoulders, he couldn't help but be grateful for her insistence that he try to relax. Even so, his heart still felt heavy with worry, more so because he couldn't share his troubles with the one person who might understand. "Can't I?" he countered with a frown. "They expect me to have the answers, Ree. I wish I'd thought to ask Rhys and Natalya more, but how was I to know this would happen? How were we to know we'd end up here?"

"You were not to know," she told him simply, her thumb working a particularly stubborn knot at the base of his neck. "They have asked you to help them find some alternatives to the future they foresee. But it will be their choice what they do, or do not. You cannot make that decision for them, and you should not. And you should let it go, if you can."

"I'm an historian, not a mage. I'm not Merlin. I don't know how to accomplish this. I only know the legends and the myths, and half of those aren't even close to the truth. All of this is as new to me as it is to you. How am I to know what to do, what will work and what won't work? We're only going to get one shot at this, Ree. One shot. If we don't succeed..." He didn't have to tell her what would happen then.

"We will succeed," Aurelia promised him. She couldn't know it for certain, but she had faith. Despite the disaster that had been her meeting with Viviane earlier that day, she understood how high the stakes were, and unlike Ian, she knew the power this place held. She highly doubted any scheme thought up by the man she loved could possibly fail.

Despite his assurances to Pellam and Arthur that they must have succeeded as Avalon was hidden in the future, he wasn't nearly so sure himself. "I wish I could be so sure of that as you are," he said with a sigh. "I heard your meeting with Viviane didn't go so well," he added, changing the subject in part so that he wouldn't slip and tell her too much.

"That woman ..." Aurelia let out a slightly disgusted breath. "She is so eager for the end, to see her burden lifted from her shoulders, that she has forgotten to care for those who will be left behind." Her hands paused for a moment in their motion over his shoulders as she leaned down to kiss his hair, calming herself with the gentle affection. "She ordered me to show her the demon, and when I would not, and Elaine stood with me, she wove a picture of Avalon's fall so clearly that she reduced Elaine to tears with it. Apparently the Lady of the Lake does not like being called a callous bitch to her face - I was escorted out of the Temple at speed."

Ian's brows flew upward and his jaw dropped a little to hear what had transpired between Aurelia and Viviane. It took him a moment to absorb what she was telling him before he managed to ask, "Why in bloody hell would she want to see the demon?" That made no sense at all, unless she thought she could somehow control it and take advantage of its power on her own to protect Avalon from destruction. "Avalon isn't going to fall. Whatever happens here, whatever we do here, it's not going to fall. Of that, I'm quite certain."

"Then why do you keep telling yourself your plan will not work?" Aurelia asked him pointedly, leaning down to look him in the eye with a smile. "We will succeed, mon cœur. I am certain of it."

"It's not that my plan won't work. It'll work. It's just that..." He trailed off before he told her too much. The demon was still inside her, and he couldn't risk her knowing what it was he had discussed with Pellam, and even Arthur. "You know I can't talk about it," he told her. "I will say this though... Elaine is a lovely woman. It's no wonder Rhys and Natalya love her so dearly."

"I know," his witch assured him, understanding that if the demon within her knew what was being planned, she would try her damndest to make sure the plan failed. Aurelia smiled as he mentioned Elaine, though she wasn't entirely sure what he meant by Rhys and Natalya loving her. Unless the secret they shared had something to do with time travel, that was. "She is very tender-hearted for one who is expected to take over this island upon Viviane's death."

Ian frowned a little at the mention of Viviane's death, wondering if the woman was really as obstinate as she seemed or if she was trying to make people dislike her so her death would be easier. "She is exactly what they need," he replied quietly, sliding a dripping wet arm out of the water to draw it around her waist. "Enough talk about Avalon for one night."

She squawked a little as he wrapped a wet arm about her waist, the water soaking through the thin shift she wore to turn a strip of that delicate material utterly transparent. She eyed him warningly, amusement in her dark eyes. "Don't you dare," she said, tapping the tip of his nose.

"Don't I dare what?" Ian asked with a playful smirk that few were ever privy to but her. He leaned upward for a kiss, but just as his lips met hers, he dragged her down into the tub with him, shift and all.

The squeak that escaped her was muffled by his kiss as he plunged her into the warm water with him, soaking her through to the skin without so much as a by-your-leave. Pulling out of the kiss, she splashed him indignantly, glancing down at herself to find that her shift was definitely indecent now. "You are insufferable sometimes!"

He couldn't help but laugh as she splashed him, the laughter helping to relieve the tension of the day almost as much as her massaging of his shoulders. "And you wouldn't have me any other way," he retorted, his arms still around her waist to draw her into another kiss.

"Non, I would not," she agreed, her indignation falling away beneath a smile as he drew her close, curling her arms about him as their lips played back and forth with tender, teasing kisses. Regardless of the circumstances of their visit to this time and place, they needed these moments with one another far more than either one of them had yet truly realized.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He left the shift in place for the time being, simply enjoying her kisses. No one had seen fit to put them in separate living quarters, even though he had told them they were betrothed only and not yet married, and what went on behind closed doors was no one's business but theirs. He kissed her slowly, languidly, as if they had all the time in the world, savoring the sweetness of each tender kiss.

Wrapped up in Ian's arms, Aurelia utterly missed the knock that announced the imminent arrival of unexpected visitors, too caught up in her loving affection for the man who loved her. Unfortunately, that visitor didn't have much of a sense of the appropriate. The door to the little bath-house burst open, and the boisterous king made an appearance.

"Lord Ian, I have - oh, good gods!" Abruptly Arthur turned his back, grinning widely as his sister peered in through the door herself. "My apologies, my lady."

Startled by the unexpected interruption, especially since it was from none other than the High King himself, Ian broke away from Aurelia's lips to turn his head toward the intruders, intent on scolding them, until he saw who it was that was at the door. He couldn't help but chuckle a little at Arthur's reaction, as if he'd never seen a man and woman naked in a bath before. Well, almost naked, in the case of Aurelia. "I'm afraid you've caught us at an inopportune time, Majesty," Ian said, his arms still around Aurelia who was mostly in his lap.

"So it would appear," Arthur admitted, still with his back turned, even as Aurelia erupted into giggles at the embarrassed reaction to what he had walked in on. "I'm come to invite you both to walk with myself and my sister. To insist, actually."

"Though he will also insist upon your being dried and dressed first," Morgaine added with a low laugh of her own.

Ian arched a brow, wondering why their presence was being requested by Arthur and Morgaine. It didn't seem like they were angry with them or that they were in any kind of trouble. Whatever the reason, they could not very well decline an invitation from the king. He turned a puzzled glance to Aurelia before turning back to Morgaine, though he was mostly answering Arthur. "Very well. Give us a few minutes to get dressed."

"Oh, of course, of course." Arthur nodded, though he made no move to leave the room until Morgaine reached out to physically pull her younger brother out and close the door securely.

Aurelia bit her lip, trying to suppress her laughter. "What was all that about?"

"I have no idea!" Ian exclaimed, with a chuckle. "But I doubt we can tell him no. He is the King, after all. We will just have to finish this later," he said with a smirk as he kissed her again.

"He is like an excited child," Aurelia said, gently drawing away before she could lose herself in Ian's kisses once again. Her shift was ruined for wearing beneath her gown now, at least until it dried. She would just have to hope that the wool of her gown would not rub her skin raw without it. Clambering out of the bath, she struggled to strip the sodden material from her body. "Have no fear that we will finish this later," she added. "With the doors securely locked."

"The question is what is he excited about?" Ian wondered aloud, admiring the view as she climbed out of the bath. "I will hold you to that, my lady," he teased as he, too, moved to his feet, dripping wet, and as naked as the day he was born.

She laughed, wringing the water not only from the shift but also from her hair. "I dare not even consider what a king might be so excited about," she admitted. "Clearly it is something he wishes very much to share with you." As she reached for one of the linens to dry herself, the gentle crackle of the isle's magic whispered through the room, negating any need for the cloth. Skin and hair dried as though it had not been soaked at all, and fresh clothing appeared for them. It seemed that what the king had prepared required them to be a little more dressed up than they might have expected.

Ian stepped out of the bath and was about to reach for a length of linen to wrap himself in when he, too, sensed some sort of crackle of power, like a warm breeze flowing through the room, and the two of them were suddenly dry. "What the..." Ian muttered as fresh clothing appeared in the room, something a little richer than what they'd previously been given to wear. "It's not just my presence he requested," Ian pointed out as he looked through the pile of clothing.

Aurelia was staring at the gown that had appeared for her, her mouth dropping open in amazement. It was silk, for a start - a fabric virtually unknown by most in these times. Only the very rich could afford to wear even the smallest amount, and yet here was a gown created almost entirely of it, in a shade that could only be called ivory. She cast Ian a slightly suspicious look. "What do you suppose he has planned for us?"

Ian smiled as a thought came to mind. He had mentioned that they'd like to get married in Avalon. Could it be that the King and his sister had arranged this for them? Why else would their presence be requested and they be expected to wear such finery? He kept that thought to himself, however, unsure if he was right, and if he was, wanting it to be a surprise. "I've no idea, but it seems important." He frowned a little as he held up a black tunic trimmed with gold embroidery, fine enough for a king.

"That is very fine work," she pointed out, admiring the tunic he held as she considered for a moment what was missing from the ensemble she had been given. No shift, no chemise, no undergarment of any kind. Very much as though she were intended to be easy to get to underneath the lovely gown.

There was far more to his ensemble than hers, but it seemed like it would be easy enough to sort out. "Fine enough for royalty," he remarked, examining the embroidery a moment before tugging the tunic over his head.

"Perhaps King Arthur has loaned you his own clothing for this little excursion he is insisting upon," she teased him fondly, finally just giving up and sliding herself into the soft gown. Embroidered with gold and silver at the neck and along the arms, encrusted with seed pearls atop that embroidery, it was easily the most expensive thing she had ever worn. The long sash took a moment or two to work out, however; eventually she realized it needed to be wrapped twice beneath her breasts and once about her hips before tying in front. Looking down at herself, she groaned in faint embarrassment, and quickly crossed her arms over two very pertinent points making themselves known. "This could become uncomfortable if it is cold outside," she mused.

"This isn't really made for cold weather either," he pointed out, though the outfit they'd laid out for him was far more practical than her gown. He couldn't help but admire the way she looked in it, however, even as he tugged a pair of trousers onto his legs. "You look lovely."
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uncrossing her arms, she came up with a solution to her nipply problem, letting her hair fall forward over her shoulders to disguise what was happening beneath the silk. She blushed at his compliment, feeling girlish enough to raise the skirt a little and twirl for him. "I feel a little like a princess," she confessed, slightly embarrassed to be admitting that at all.

"You are as lovely as a princess," he told her quietly, distracted from getting dressed by the view. "But you are more like a queen. The Queen of my Heart." Oh, he knew that was corny, but here they were in Avalon. What better place to enjoy a little romance?

She smiled, almost shy of the compliments he seemed so happy to give her, turning to help him dress now that she had distracted him so fully. "I love you, Ian, very much," she promised him. "You do not need pretty words to hold my heart."

"Pretty words are not my strong suit," he admitted, letting her help him don what appeared to be a robe of sorts now that he was wearing the tunic and breeches. There was a belt, as well, and a pair of boots. Unlike her gown, his outfit consisted of several layers of clothing, all in black linen with ornate gold trim. "I love you, Aurelia. With all my heart and soul."

Her smile turned tender as he made his own declaration to her, wondering if her mild suspicion about just why they had been given these garments was anywhere near reality. Her fingers gently caressed his cheek as she rose up onto her toes to kiss him. "Come, mon cœur. We cannot keep the king waiting."

He smiled into her kiss, touched as he always was by her gentle caress and her kind, caring nature, at least where he was concerned. He caught her fingers and brought them to his lips. "No, we cannot," he replied, that smile still in place. His hair was untamed and falling in dark curls over his forehead, the shadow of a beard starting to grow against his cheeks.

He had yet to see how fierce she could be when those she loved were threatened, and a part of her hoped he would never have to see it. She gently brushed the curls from his brow, slipping her hand into his to turn and lead him from the little bath-house, out into the main room of the cottage where Arthur and Morgaine waited.

He attached the astrolabe to his belt before following her, hand in hand, into the main room. He had a pretty good idea what Arthur and Morgaine had in mind, and was deeply touched that they'd think enough of them to do them this kindness.

Promptly by the couple's entrance, Arthur turned from where he had been talking with his sister, a wide grin on his youthful face. "Ah, now that is much better," he approved of them both, offering his arm to Aurelia. "My lady, if you would be so kind?"

Slightly nonplussed by the display of courtly manners, Aurelia glanced once to Ian before taking the king's arm, led from the cottage with as much ceremony as if she was his queen.

Morgaine chuckled as she moved to invite Ian to walk with her. "You must forgive my little brother, he has an over developed sense of the dramatic."

Ian offered Aurelia a reassuring nod when Arthur offered his arm and he moved to step into place beside Morgaine, whom they hadn't had much time to get acquainted with just yet. It saddened him to think what awaited them in the future, knowing he dared do nothing to stop the tragedies that awaited them, but perhaps he and Aurelia could at least give them a little bit of happiness now and a little bit of hope later. "There's nothing wrong with that," he told her. "It's his flair for the dramatic that draws people to him. He's a good man with a kind and just heart."

"It is good to know that even centuries into the future, Arthur is still remembered," Morgaine smiled, laying her hand on Ian's arm as they walked. It seemed there was a fair amount of ceremony involved in simply going for a walk with the king and his sister. "His birth healed my heart after the death of my father. I could not imagine a world without him in it, now."

Ian frowned a little to know how history would remember Morgaine and her son. He wished there was a way he could set the record straight, but he had no way to prove what these people had really been like, and the truth had been lost long ago to legend and myth. It soothed his heart to know that she had loved her brother and not wished him harm. He wasn't sure how she felt about Arthur's wife, whom he had yet to meet, and wasn't about to ask. "He is remembered, but much of his history is lost and forgotten, I'm afraid, twisted by time and by too many re-tellings."

"It is hard to look back even twenty years and know for certain what truly happened," she agreed with a smile, her mannerisms very similar to those of her younger brother, the king. It seemed that Igraine had been a strong influence on both their lives. "So much has happened in Arthur's life so far, I would be surprised if legends did not spring from it."

"You can rest assured that Arthur will be remembered in legend for many years to come, but there's not much more I can tell you than that," he admitted, grudgingly. He wished he could tell her more; he wished he could talk to all of them at length and learn their stories firsthand. Wouldn't that make for some interesting research? But it would only breed controversy back home. Few believed most of the legends, as it was.

Morgaine chuckled, gently patting his arm. "I understand, my lord," she assured him. "To know the future is to destroy it, unless you already know the path you must walk. It is enough to know that Arthur will be remembered."

"You will be remembered, as well, my lady," he told her, though to a lesser degree and amidst more controversy and conjecture and disagreement.

She shook her head. "It should be Arthur's story," she insisted, with all the adoration of an elder sister for the sibling who had healed old wounds simply by being born. She gently squeezed Ian's arm as they passed from beneath the boughs of a low-hung tree, into a small clearing that had been swept clean of fallen leaves for one evening.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Viviane stood beneath the Thorn, Elaine at her side, and all around were rough-hewn benches where the people they had met since their arrival had gathered. Ahead of them, Aurelia was staring, open-mouthed, at the High King, who was laughing at her reaction.

From one of the benches, the Master of the Temple made himself known. "Well, don't just stand there," Pellam declared. "This is a wedding, is it not?"

He would have replied to that, insisted that there were many heroes and heroines that were part of Arthur's story and that helped to make him great, but they had arrived at a small clearing where a small group had been gathered, and even Ian seemed surprised by those who were in attendance. He laughed at Pellam's remark, remarking quietly to whoever might be close enough to hear him, "It would seem my lovely bride has been taken by surprise."

"I was rather under the impression that was the plan, my lord," Morgaine murmured back to him, chuckling along with his amusement as Aurelia, utterly unafraid of Arthur's rank, thumped the High King soundly on the arm. Arthur just laughed once again, drawing her to where the Lady of Avalon awaited.

"I believe this is where we must part ways, my lady," Ian said aside to Morgaine as he untangled himself from her arm, giving Pellam's shoulder a fond squeeze as he made his way past to join Aurelia. "Surprised, love?" he asked with a mischievous grin. No, he hadn't been in on the surprise, but he had suspected as much as soon as he'd spied the little pile of ornate clothing that had been laid out for them.

Arthur bowed to them both as he gave Aurelia's hand into Ian's, stepping back as the unexpected bride turned to her groom. "I must confess, I did not think you would actually do it," she admitted, more than a little bowled over by what was happening. Her fingers tightened in Ian's as she smiled up at him. "But I could not be happier to see it done."

"I can't take the credit, I'm afraid. I'm as surprised as you are!" But just barely. He wasn't sure which one he should blame or credit for this little surprise, but he suspected it was most likely Arthur. After all, he was the king, after all. "You're not upset?" he asked, as he linked his fingers to hers.

Her other hand rose to cover their linked fingers fondly as she leaned into him. "Non, I am not upset," she assured him. "Surprised, yes, but not upset. We will simply have to make it legal when we get home."

"We will, and we'll make sure Rhys and Natalya are there to witness," he said, leaning close to brush a kiss against her cheek before turning to face the Lady of Avalon. "Lady," he greeted her with a respectful nod, despite the fact that they seemed to be slightly at odds.

For all her obstinacy, Viviane seemed in a far better mood as she looked at the couple before her. "Lore-master," she inclined her head to him. A faint smile played about the stern woman's face as she then stepped back, ushering Elaine to take her place.

The Lady's successor blushed, unable to suppress her grin as she looked at Ian and Aurelia. "Are you ready?"

Ian arched a curious brow as Viviane and Elaine changed places, but didn't question it. He only gave Aurelia's hand a gentle squeeze and drew a deep breath. He glanced to his beloved with a soft smile on his face before turning back to the future Lady of Avalon. "I'm ready."

"As am I." Aurelia smiled up at Ian, turning her eyes to Elaine. It didn't surprise her so much that Viviane had set her successor to officiate this joining - after her encounter with the Lady that morning, it wasn't a good sign to be married by her.

Elaine's smile softened as she reached out to take their hands, holding them joined in her own grasp. "Father, Mother, Divine Spirit whose presence is felt in all things and at all times, we ask your continued blessing upon this couple and their union. May they become one in truth and forever revel in the love they share."

Around the small clearing, there was a murmur of agreement, men and women who followed both the old and the new religions approving of the chosen words. Elaine bit her lip to keep from giggling, taking in a deep breath before she spoke again. "If you have vows you wish to make, all those gathered here will bear witness gladly."

It was so short and so simple, it took Ian by surprise, unlike the rituals of marriage as they were normally carried out back home. "Vows?" he echoed, turning to look at Aurelia. He hadn't had time to prepare any vows, though he thought he could probably come up with something to see if he had to, albeit in front of a group of mostly strangers. "Do we have vows?" he asked her, uncertainly.

Aurelia was just as startled as he was by how short and sweet the ceremony seemed to be in this time, laughing softly as Ian looked to her for some confirmation of how little they were both prepared for this. "Non," she assured him. "Any vows I might make would only be prettier words to tell you that I love you, and I always will."

"As I love you and always will," he replied, echoing her words. "There are no secrets between us. You already know my heart. I will love you until the day I die. There is nothing else to say," he told her quietly. In that moment, he wished he was a poet, but maybe the lyrics of a song would do just as well. He wasn't a very good singer - his voice was a little too raspy for that - but it wasn't so much the voice that mattered, but the words. "If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you? The words will never show the you I've come to know."

Of all the things Aurelia might have expected Ian to do or say, bursting into song was definitely not one of them. It was a rare thing to make her blush, but he had managed to bring forth a soft rose to shade her cheeks in front of their distinguished witnesses. Laughing, she raised her fingers to his lips, shushing him tenderly. "Point taken, mon cœur."

Beside them, Elaine swallowed her own laughter, gesturing to the Handmaidens who stood with them. Two of them came forward, bearing crowns woven of autumnal blooms to rest atop the newly-wedded pair's heads as Elaine spoke once again, drawing their hands into hers, wrapping their fingers with a soft length of cloth. "Lords and Ladies, guardians of all that is seen and unseen, bless this pair who love and are loved. Keep them safe through adversity forever, supported by your eternal blessing."

And to everyone's surprise, Viviane stepped forward, laying her hand atop the joined fingers. "May you be forever as one in the passion and fire of your love," she intoned, her voice rich, shimmering with the power she held within herself. "You are now, as your hearts have always known you to be, Husband and Wife."
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ian's singing quieted as Aurelia laid a finger against his lips. He'd hardly even gotten past the first verse before she'd silenced him, but he thought he'd sung enough for her to get the idea. Anyway, there'd be time to serenade her later. His eyes were shining with happiness as the Handmaidens placed the crown of blooms upon their heads and Elaine wove a cloth about their hands. He met Aurelia's gaze as Elaine spoke the words that bound them together, brows arching in surprise when Viviane joined in. He had never felt as happy as he did at this moment, surrounded by the people who had once been his heroes but were now becoming his friends, and joined to the only woman he had ever truly loved.

Viviane's addition to the blessing surprised Aurelia, too, giving her cause to rethink her opinion of the woman. But that rethinking would have to wait for a quieter time, when her heart wasn't singing with delight at the knowledge that she and Ian were joined now in every way but one. That one way could be settled easily upon their return to their own time and place, when it happened. For now, there was only the celebration, even in the midst of the Lady's fears for the isle itself. Rising up onto her toes, she kissed her husband, laughing as - of all people - Pellam let loose with a loud whoop of congratulations.

Ian beamed a smile into that kiss, his heart soaring with love and happiness. They'd sort out Avalon's problems soon enough, but tonight was reserved for celebration. As Pellam let loose with his whoop of congratulations, Ian drew an arm around Aurelia's waist to pull her close and give her a very un-chaste kiss, one that might even make Elaine blush.

Giggling into that kiss, Aurelia struggled for a moment before remembering that her hand was bound to his still by the soft cloth that had been used to handfast them. Breaking away, she gently nipped his lip, lowering her eyes to picking the cloth free, only to gasp in surprise. There, on their respective ring fingers, were two wedding bands.

From behind Elaine, Viviane spoke, her voice soft enough as to be only for their ears. "A gift from Avalon."

Ian was as surprised to find a ring upon his finger as Aurelia was - and a very expensive-looking ring at that. No matter what had been said between them and the Lady of Avalon, he was deeply touched by the gift of both the wedding and the rings. "Thank you, Lady," he told her quietly, a soft smile on his face.

"Oui, thank you." Aurelia didn't quite know where her tears had come from, touched to the heart by the kindness in every person here. People who knew she harbored a dangerous being, trapped inside her, and yet seemed to have gone out of their way to arrange all this anyway. Even a woman she had been certain would hate her after that morning had set her animosity aside for these few moments. It was almost too much to take in.

"Lady Aurelia, are you well?" That voice belonged to the king's sister, but Aurelia couldn't find the words to answer, pressing into Ian's arms to weep softly, overwhelmed by everything that had happened so quickly.

Ian was as surprised to find Aurelia in tears as those gathered around them, but unlike them, he knew the truth behind those tears. It was, perhaps, the first time he saw her lose herself to tears, but at least he knew there was no sadness in them. "Happy tears," he explained as he wrapped his arms around her in a protective embrace. "I cannot tell you how much we both appreciate all this. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts."

"It was Master Pellam's idea," Arthur offered, as nonplussed as everyone by the bride's sudden descent into tears. "He is of the opinion that Avalon should give you something in return for what you are giving her."

"And Elaine suggested a marriage," Pellam added from where he sat. "We have no feast for you to enjoy, but I think, perhaps, that is not so necessary for you both."

"No, all we need is each other, but it is good to be surrounded by friends, and it is good to know those friends thought enough of us to do this for us. It is something we will never forget," Ian told them, at something of a loss for words. "Love," he whispered softly to Aurelia. "Are you all right?" he asked with some concern.

Sniffling, Aurelia nodded against his chest, slipping her hands between them to wipe her face dry before raising her eyes to his once again. "I am well, Ian," she promised him softly. "It is ... it is simply so much. And they all know what I am, and ..."

A gentle hand touched Aurelia's back. "You are a good woman, afflicted in a way none of us can understand," Elaine said just as softly. "There is no shame in it."

Ian bent his head to kiss her forehead, gently, affectionately, protectively. All of those gathered there, including himself, knew what resided inside her, and none of them blamed her for it. "You see, love? They see you for who you truly are. They do not condemn you, and they will not harm you. If you could only see yourself through our eyes, you would understand how easy it is to love you."

"All my life, it has been a secret," she said quietly. "And yet I have told more people in the past day than have ever known before. I do not wish to let any of you down." Her arms tightened about Ian's waist - of everyone there, he was the one she was most afraid of hurting in some way.

And he was probably the least afraid of being hurt, at least, by her. "You won't," he said, not only to her, but to all those gathered around. "We are going to save Avalon, and we're going to do it together. All of us." He wasn't big on speeches, unless they were college lectures, but someone needed to say it, if only to give them all hope. "We are going to do this, but in order to do it, we are going to have to do it together," he reiterated, looking from one face to the other, one arm wrapped around Aurelia. "But..." A smile broke across his face. "Tonight is for us. We have a marriage to consummate, and I'm sorry, but none of you are invited."

The announcement that they were all in this together was received with nods and murmurs of agreement that fluctuated from appalled to amused to outright snickering from one elderly gentleman as Ian informed the company that he was about to go back to the cottage and make absolutely certain that Aurelia was his wife. Of everyone, Arthur was the one who dared to laugh out loud, slapping his knee as he bent double to wheeze cheerfully. "By all means, Lore-master," the king chuckled. "Perhaps you should run!"
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Aurelia
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Perhaps we should," Ian agreed with a grin, though he thought that would be rude. "With your leave, Majesty," he said with a small bow. They had already warned him that no feast would follow the marriage rites, and Ian wondered if that left them free to do as they pleased.

"Of course, by all means." Arthur attempted to control his laughter, straightening up to receive Ian's bow and Aurelia's curtsey with a smiling inclination of his head. The others of the small party had already turned their own way, leaving the newly wedded couple to their own devices as Viviane returned to the Chalice Well with Elaine in tow.

"May you have many years of joy," Morgaine offered to them, taking her brother's arm to prevent him from offering anything else by way of mischief to the couple.

"Arthur..." Ian started, daring to call the King by his name, rather than by his title, as though he was a friend. "Thank you." He looked to Morgaine then, to include her, as well. "Thank you both."

"It is our pleasure," Arthur assured him, offering no objection to being called by name. "Now I believe you should go before your wife begins to cry once again." He offered Aurelia a gentle smile, though it was clear from the slight confusion in his eyes that he did not quite understand how a woman who seemed so fragile could be holding a demon at bay.

Aurelia managed a small smile herself, inclining her head to the king and his sister. "My thanks, also," she said quietly. "Truly. It means more than I can say."

Ian wasn't sure how they'd ever manage to thank them, though he thought helping them protect Avalon would be more than enough payment. He waited until Aurelia was finished offering her thanks, before he drew her away with a final bow of his head to the king and his sister. It didn't miss his notice that neither Guinevere nor Lancelot had joined them, but it didn't really matter. "Shall we, wife?" he asked Aurelia with a playful smirk.

Aurelia giggled softly, hugging to him as he smirked down at her. "As you wish, husband," she teased him in return. A part of her wanted to apologize for her tearful display, but she thought that Ian already knew why she had broken down. He knew her that well already, and as the years passed, he would come to know her even better.

There were some - like Arthur - who might have thought tears were a weakness, but Ian wasn't one of them. He knew how hard she tried to hold her emotions in check, and he knew why she had broken down. He, too, had found himself misty-eyed several times since coming here. It was not a weak person, but a brave one who was strong enough to share their feelings as openly as she had. "I like the way that sounds. Husband," he told her as he led her back toward the cottage, where they'd spend their first night as husband and wife.

"My husband," she told him softly, one hand clenching in the skirt of her gown to keep herself from tripping over it as they walked. "As I am your wife. I did not ever think to love and be loved so well as we do, mon cœur. Thank you."

"You need not thank me, Aurelia. I am the one who should be thanking you," he told her as he came to a halt there, not quite having reached the cottage yet. "There are not enough words to tell you how much I love you. Do I need to break into song again to prove it?" he asked with another smirk.

She laughed at his playful threat, looking up into his eyes with the soft tenderness that assured him it was Aurelia looking back. There was no hint of the demon, who seemed to have been rendered catatonic by the ceremony they had just experienced. "I can think of better ways for you to show me your love," she murmured teasingly, drawing her fingertips against his cheek. "J'adore, mon cœur."

"Mmm," he murmured. "So can I," he replied, leaning in to brush a kiss against her lips, smothering her declaration of love. He lingered in that kiss for a moment before breaking away and sweeping her into his arms, so that she wouldn't trip over her dress on the way back as daylight started to fade.

Strange, how they would present such a parallel and a contrast to Elaine centuries later, when she joined Rhys and Natalya in matrimony. For Ian and Aurelia, there was no lavish feast and celebration, no risque teasing or laughing run for the marital bed. There was a great deal of gentle, calm dignity in them, whether they knew it or not, yet their love was no less for that. So many wishes had been granted in the space of twenty-four hours ... would Viviane grant one more before she was done with them?

Rushed or not, there was only one way to consummate a marriage, and though in all truth, they'd been doing just that for a few months, now that they were married, it seemed that much more special, sacred even. Ian carried her over the proverbial threshold and into the small cottage they'd been given to share during their stay in Avalon, straight to the bed that they also shared. It took a while for them both to tease each other out of the clothes that had been left for them, exchanging kisses and caresses until there was nothing left but a pile of discarded silk and linen strewn about the room.

Curled to one another in the bed, they edged through the steps they had each learned over the past months, sharing their tender affection with one another with the added thrill that came from knowing that this was their wedding night. Though there had been no frills, no great celebration, it suited them perfectly. Aurelia and Ian had no one but each other - it was fitting that the only true celebration of their marriage should take place between just themselves.

They didn't need a fancy celebration complete with a feast and champagne and dancing. They didn't need to be surrounded by family and friends. All they had ever needed was each other, to have and to hold, now and forever. Past, present, and future all came together in that moment, where nothing was important but their love. Demon or no, as cliched as it sounded, Ian was determined that their love would conquer all.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hours later, when the moon was high, pouring silver light in through the leaded window to illuminate them where they lay, Aurelia stirred, nestling closer as her hand sought his. For a moment, she was confused, feeling the unexpected hardness of the ring about his finger, before remembrance brought back the true events of the day. She smiled, tilting her head back to look up at her husband, dark eyes soft with tender adoration.

Ian had finally fallen asleep, tucked close beside the woman who had captured his heart, who had claimed him completely, and with whom he had vowed to spend the rest of his days. He looked peaceful for once, all the stress and worries of the last few days forgotten for the moment, resting blissfully and contentedly beside his beloved wife. He stirred a little, as if sensing she'd awoken, arms searching for her in his sleep to hold her close.

Her smile deepened as his arm wrapped about her, drawn in close to let her lips brush against his shoulder. It didn't feel real, and yet it was. There was the ring on his finger, a perfect match for the ring on her own, Viviane's gift to them born of Avalon's magic. Very gently, Aurelia brought Ian's hand to her lips, kissing that ring tenderly. "J'adore, mon cœur," she whispered in the dim light of the moonlit night. "For always."

He murmured quietly to himself, eyes sliding open, heavy with sleep. He smiled sleepily when he saw her there, waking up just in time to hear her words of love. "Can't sleep?" he asked a little groggily. He wasn't sure how long he'd been asleep, but it was a more peaceful rest than he'd managed in weeks.

She stilled as his eyes opened, guilt touching the smile he found on her face. "I did not mean to wake you," she murmured softly, laying his hand back against his stomach with a gentle touch. "Go back to sleep, mon cœur."

"It's okay," he told her, touching fingers to her cheek in a soft caress. "Hard to believe, isn't it?" he asked with a soft smile. Now that he was awake, he wasn't feeling like going back to sleep just yet, content to lay beside her and watch her in the moonlight.

She laughed very softly, looking down at her hand where it lay against his chest, two rings now sparkling on her finger where only a few days ago there had been none. "It is magical," she said quietly, not wanting to disturb the stillness around them. "Thank you, for loving me."

"You don't have to thank me, Ree," he told her quietly, though there was no one there but them. "You're easy to love. And you know how to sew," he teased with a smirk. The first time they'd met, she'd had to sew his pants in a very delicate spot.

This time, her laughter was louder, accompanied by a wriggle that earned him a poke in a sensitive spot all his own. "Ah, so it is my needlework that has you coming back for me, now I understand," she giggled, brushing her long hair out of her eyes. "Perhaps I should embroider your underwear with my name, just so you remember to come home."

He chuckled with amusement at her suggestion. "I don't think I need a reminder who I'm married to," he told her, fingers sliding through her hair as he helped push it away from her face. "You know, Rhys and Natalya are going to be jealous when they find out where we've been."

"I do not think they will," she shrugged, trying not to make the inevitable connection between the secret the demon could not know, Avalon, and the three people who meant most to her in the world. "Unless you are talking about meeting King Arthur. I think, perhaps, Rhys will be a little envious of that."

"That's part of it, yes," he admitted. Actually, that was most of it. Rhys and Nat had been married here, as well, but not in the presence of King Arthur and the rest of his entourage. "I doubt Rhys would get along well with Viviane," he admitted with a smirk.

Aurelia snorted softly, but there was more confusion than mirth in her. "I do not know what to make of that woman," she confessed, nuzzling her cheek against his shoulder. "She is so stern, so harsh, so unforgiving. And yet ... she blessed our marriage, she used the magic of Avalon to bind us. It is a strange contrast that I cannot quite understand."

"Nor do I, but I think we want the same thing." Which was for Avalon and her people to be forever safe. It was only their methods that differed, their way of going about accomplishing that goal. He frowned a little as he was reminded of the conversation he'd had with Arthur and Pellam a few hours ago - a conversation he couldn't tell her about, for fear the demon would know their plans.

She raised her eyes to his face, spying the frown and thankfully misunderstanding it. "The spell is an easy one," she assured him. "So long as I am able to siphon off the demon's power, there is no danger to it. It is others' responsibility to remove the demon before I cast, and I do not want to know how it will come about."

It was going to take perfect timing, if it was to work. That was, if Viviane did indeed invite the demon in, just before she turned her power over to Elaine. "Let's not talk about it anymore," he said, rolling atop his newlywed wife. It wasn't just the fact that he didn't want the demon to find their plans, so much as that he didn't want to taint their wedding night with it.

"What, then, shall we talk about?" she asked, shifting herself beneath him until they lay nose to nose, her hands gentle against his sides, looking up at her husband with a soft smile playing about her lips. "Where we shall live, or where we shall go on this honeymoon you wish for? Or perhaps what we shall call the babe that may already be growing within me?"

He smiled softly down at her. "We could," he replied with a bit of a smirk on his face. "Or we could make doubly sure we've consummated our marriage, just so there's no mistake." Which would also double their chances at making a baby.

Another quiet giggle ghosted against his lips as she arched up to him, smoothing her hands over his back. "Perhaps it is just as well it will take a couple of days for the people here to prepare for the change they seek," she murmured. "I do not think either one of us will be rising early in the morning."

"There's no rush really," he admitted. It would be years before Camelot fell and with it Avalon. He wasn't sure what Viviane's rush was, unless she was simply weary of life or afraid the demon might make trouble for them if she wasn't dealt with quickly. But he didn't want to talk about that now. "We have all the time in the world." And so long as they had the astrolabe in their possession, that seemed to be true, but that wasn't quite what he'd meant. He said nothing more, choosing instead to let his actions speak for him as he showed her for the second time that night how much he loved her.

Who would have thought, when Rhys turned to the Lady months before to ask for help in keeping an eye on Aurelia, that his choice would result not only in a marriage, but in the very actions that would place Avalon beyond the world of men? Had Elaine known, when she had shown her Champion that group of men, that Rhys would decide upon Ian? Intrigue and mystery cloaked Avalon thickly, yet for those caught up in its ways, there always seemed to be a reward to enjoy. For Aurelia, Ian was that reward and always had been, a man who had touched her heart from the first day they had met. A man who was now her husband. A man she would do anything to protect, so long as she lived.

Those were questions to which they would more than likely never know the answers, nor did it matter, so long as Avalon was safe, so long as Ian and Aurelia were together. Perhaps one day they would untangle the mystery, but for now, all that mattered was that two lonely hearts had found each other and had been joined together in the sacred rite of matrimony, witnessed by the powers that be, old and new alike. No matter how many times Ian might make love to his wife that night, each time was as tender and as loving as the first. Whatever powers had brought them to Avalon for whatever reason no longer mattered, for this one night. They had vowed to save Avalon and in doing so had been giving the greatest reward of all: each other.

((Avalon just keeps on surprising us! Ah, but will the newly weds be able to get back to their own time when all this is over? Stay tuned if you want to find out!))
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