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Not A Moment Too Soon

 
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Rosemary Anderson
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:29 pm    Post subject: Not A Moment Too Soon Reply with quote

May 1617

The Forest of Wirth was a bustling place, if you knew where to look. Luckily for the supposed "Rebels of Coimbra", very few people did know where to look. For most of the world, in fact, Wirth was an inhospitable place, impossible to navigate. For the rebels intent on reclaiming their land for the Goddess and their own royal bloodline, it was home. They'd lasted out the winter well enough, and as spring rose, had begun to lay out plans to take certain positions that would not have occurred to them, had it not been for the arrival of Malcolm Anderson in their midst. A man out of time, a gift from the Goddess, and now a knight of the King's own making, his knowledge of the ways their rebellion had failed in his own past was an advantage they could not afford to ignore.

Yet in the midst of all this war-making, there were softer moments to enjoy. The news that King Tralin Nairn's son, Dugan, was expecting his first child with his new wife, Morwen; a heartening missive sent in secret from the inner council of Pomerania, tacitly confirming the High King's support when the time was right. And perhaps most pertinently of all for Malcolm Anderson, the quiet encouragement from Brodie Adair that his little sister, Rosemary, would not object to his attentions if he would only give them to her, and that the elder brother, Duncan, would not do more than black his eye if he discovered canoodling before marriage.

Two months was hardly enough time to court a woman, both in his own time and that of the past in which he now found himself, and yet Malcolm could think of little else. There was the conflict with Coimbra, of course. Until there was peace, there would always be that, and Malcolm had made himself indispensable with his knowledge of their future, as well as other things. He'd made friends among the rebels, and among the true king and his family, but peace had not come to Coimbra yet, and Malcolm was losing his patience in more ways than one.

It did not help that everything seemed to be moving so slowly, either. He wasn't the only one impatient for something to happen. Caerell Adair had taken his eldest son and most of their clan forces north a week ago, splitting them up to avoid detection as they began to work on encircling Castle Imbre, in the mid-point of the country. Others were also gone, doing similar things across the country. But still Malcolm remained here, with Brodie and Rosemary Adair, with Dugan the prince, and with the king himself, still planning and coordinating, until finally the word came that he was to make his way to Imbre and join Caerell and his forces. Rosemary was incandescent with rage.

"No!" she insisted forcefully. "You'll not go, not without me! You don't know the terrain, the land, you'll be caught and killed, and I'll not have it, Malcolm Anderson, I'll not!"

Malcolm had not wanted a fight, at least not with her. Though a scholar by trade, he was no stranger to sword and bow and had been training these past few months with the rebels in preparation for the inevitable. Neither he nor Rosemary could have predicted the inevitable would have come so soon. As soon as she'd heard, she'd gone in search of him and found him sitting on a log, sharpening his blade, as if he hadn't a care in the world, when nothing could be farther from the truth. He wished she'd had the news from him, but that, it seemed, couldn't have been helped, as news spread quickly amidst the rebel camp.

She hadn't actually bothered to begin the conversation, simply launching straight into her rant at him. Her rage did nothing to counteract the fact that it was a tiny woman in ragged pants and tunic, hands on her hips, snapping at him - it would have been comical if he hadn't known that she was mainly angry because no one had told her she was allowed to go with him.

She glared at him. "Well?" she demanded. "Nothing to say for yourself?"

"You speak as if it was my decision to leave for Imbre and not the King's," Malcolm pointed out, doing his best to keep his temper, lest they start shouting at one another. Of the two of them, she was the hot-headed one, and everyone knew it was cooler heads that prevailed. He continued to work at sharpening his blade, without so much as looking at her for fear she would be his undoing.

Rose's glare sharpened when he didn't turn to look at her, more hurt than angry, though he wouldn't know that if he didn't meet her eyes. "Aye, well, the king doesn't know the land, either," she said robustly. "Nor will he, not the way you need to know it to pass safe through the heretic mercenary lines. You've no scout in your party. You should've fought for one, the best we've got!"

"I didn't think it necessary to ask for a scout when I knew you'd want to go along," he told her, again without looking at her, in good part because he didn't want her to see the smirk playing about his mouth. If she had only approached him differently and not attacked him and assumed the worst, there would have been no need for an argument. "There is a condition, however," he started, waiting for her response before going on.

"You're not bloody stopping me from going, if that's what you think," she flared back at him, throwing up her hands. "You're my miracle, Malcolm Anderson, I'll do what I want with you or without, thank you very much!" Except he wasn't her miracle - he was theirs. Mal was living proof that the Goddess had not abandoned the faithful, even if he had been presented in answer to Rosemary's prayer.

Now the whetstone fell silent in his hand as he turned a slow gaze upon her, eyes narrowed slightly at her angry retort. "You're nae hearing me, Rosemary. And as much as I'd like to believe it, I'm nae only here because of you," he told her, his brogue getting the better of him.

Her eyes narrowed. "Layin' conditions on me without a word in my ear before time is not good enough," she informed him, proving that she had heard him well enough. "What do you mean, much as you'd like to believe it?" A vaguely suspicious note entered her voice as she eyed him for that comment.

He set the sword aside for now, with the intent of finishing the chore later. There were a lot of preparations that needed to be made before they left for Imbre, and this was only one of them. "I wish you had heard the news from me first, but it cannae be helped now," he told her, patting a spot on the log beside him, urging her to sit.

"Aye, well, sentries chat," she conceded, knowing it would have been better to have heard he was marching headfirst into danger without her from him. With a huff, she thumped down onto the log beside him without much grace. Truth was, she was angry because she was worried for him, and hurt that she'd been left out.

"Do you really think I'd run off without you?" he asked, turning to face her once she had settled herself beside him and cooled off a little. He couldn't help it if the sentries' tongues wagged, but he could set her straight on the truth.

"Everyone else has," she pointed out a little bitterly. "We got caught once, and yes, it was my fault, but that's no reason to suddenly treat me like I'm breakable. I've as much experience in fighting as anyone has; more in scouting, too."

He sighed, frowning a little as she placed the blame on herself for an event that had been the catalyst in bringing him here. "And if you had nae been caught? What then? I do nae think I would be sitting here beside you," he pointed out, logically, though there was very little that was logical about his arrival there.

"That is not the point I'm making, Mal," she pointed out sternly, looking up at him. "I'm being ferried off with the old and the bairns, and there's no call for it. I'm capable; more capable than Brodie. Have you seen him with that sword lately?"

"This is nae about Brodie. 'Tis about you ... and me," he said, adding the last part a little belatedly and a little more quietly. "I am to lead a party to Imbre, aye, 'tis true. 'Tis also true we will need a scout, and I cannae think of a better scout than you, but there is a condition."

Her dark eyes turned toward his, a little wary of what he might be about to say. You and me. They'd become close over the past two months or so, close enough that she was comfortable to simply yell at him with no preamble, but never yet quite reached that moment where either one would state outright what they wanted. "What's your condition, Mal?" she asked uncertainly.

"What did you mean, I'm your miracle?" he countered, though what he really wanted to know was what she'd meant by her claim that she'd do what she wanted with or without him.

For the first time since he'd met her, Rose hesitated. Her eyes widened, surprised to be challenged on her unthinking accusation. "I, I ..." She shook her head, looking away to hide her expression. "I ... Well, I was the one praying when you arrived." It wasn't the whole truth, but would he accept it?
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Rosemary Anderson
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Aye, you were, but do you think the Goddess only brought me here for you, or for some greater purpose?" he asked further, needing to know exactly what she thought and maybe how she felt about him. They had gotten close over the last few months, and even if they could not see it themselves, those around them seemed to have noticed that closeness went deeper than mere friendship.

"I, uh ... I wasnae prayin' to be delivered from harm," she admitted softly, looking down at her hands as they twisted together on her knees, her own accent broadening for a moment. "I was ..." A rosy flush was gathering on her cheeks as she steeled herself to speak. "I was ... I was praying that I wouldn't die without ... without being loved. Without lovin' someone with my whole heart. And ... and then you appeared."

Malcolm arched a brow, a little surprised at her candor. He already suspected her feelings about him, though he'd never heard her voice them aloud before, but he hadn't been expecting her to be quite so forthright about it. At least, if he was understanding her rightly. "And now?" he asked, reaching over to turn her face toward him, rosy cheeks and all.

Her face turned with the gentle touch of his hand, as much warmth as fear in the soft eyes that looked into his. "Mal, I ... I don't know what you want me to say," she told him, her voice shaking just a little. "You're goin' off to war without me, I might ... I might never see you again. I can't say the words and then lose you. I won't."

"Then come with me, Rose," Malcolm said, gentling his voice, his fingers in soft caress of her cheek as he met her gaze. "Come with me as my wife," he added quietly, his gaze saying everything else for him. He reached for her hands, taking them in his own, a pleading expression on his face she had never seen before. He hadn't said the words either, though the look on his face said them for him.

"Your wife?" Rose's eyes widened, startled, shocked - deeply, tenderly touched to suddenly discover that what she felt for the miracle of Imbre, the man out of time, was reciprocated. That he wanted what she longed for, yearning with her without words. "Mal, I'd go with you even if you didn't marry me. I'd follow you to the Void and back, just to be near you."

"You said it yourself, Rose. You prayed for someone to love, and I appeared. I would rather keep you safe than bring you with me, but I know you would only resent me for it. The king has given me permission to court you, but I do nae want to wait, and I do nae want to lose you either," he pleaded, knowing he was rushing things a little, but if they were going into danger together, he'd rather they went into danger as husband and wife.

"If the king has given permission, then you've been courtin' me this whole time," she reminded him gently, hesitant hands rising to touch slender fingers to his bearded jaw. "Truly, Mal? You'd truly wish me for your wife? For there's many a woman here who'd have you happily and give you less trouble than I."

There was no point in arguing this or in trying to convince her that he wanted no one else. If she didn't understand that by now, there would be no convincing her, but there was something he had not said yet, that perhaps needed saying. "You would nae say that if you knew how I feel. Your prayer has been answered. I love you, Rose, with all my heart," he said, taking her hands in his again and pressing them against his chest. He had more reasons for marrying her than not, and love was only one of them.

"Och, I love you, Mal." He may have been doing everything right, but there was more than one reason Rosemary Adair was considered a true rose in her family of thorns. She blossomed in adversity, showed off her colors at every opportunity, and here and now, with a man she loved who loved her in return, she saw no need to care for reputation or honor. She threw her arms about his neck, dragging him close as clumsy lips found his, eager for the kisses she'd been dreaming of for too long.

Surprised by her eagerness as he was, he was only too happy to reciprocate, as eager for her kisses as she was for his. Without a chance to respond to her declaration of love, he let his lips respond for him, his heart opening to hers. He drew her close into the protective circle of his arms, heedless of anyone who might catch them and accuse them of improper behavior. To hell with them anyway. He was determined to make her his wife, so long as the king was willing.

Improper behavior be damned. If they were caught, Rose was not above demanding to be married just to "protect" her reputation. Tralin Nairn would likely go along with it and understand why, too. But those thoughts had no place in this moment, at this time, with Malcolm Anderson in her arms, loving her as she loved him, the answer to what she had once thought would be her last prayer to a Goddess that had not abandoned her.

For a long moment, there were no words between them - only kisses and caresses too long withheld. At some point, she would have to answer him with something more than just kisses; she would have to tell him whether she would or would not be his wife, and then, they would have to seek the king's permission.

For a long time, all she needed was those kisses. But she knew her duty, perhaps better than he did, for all her supposed wildness, gently drawing back with reluctant affection. "We should ..." Her lips brushed his once more. "Should find Brodie," she murmured. "Tell him we're to be married so's he can tell the king with us. Pa won't mind he's not here."

If things had been different, he might have suggested they wait to ask for her father's permission first; but with the impending journey to Imbre, there was no time for that. "Mm," he murmured against her lips, leaning close to rest his brow against hers. "We should," he agreed, though he made no indication he was ready to do so.

Her fingertips, callused from bow and dagger, stroked tenderly against his cheek as the tip of her nose brushed his, a softly sweet smile curving lips he had only just tasted and would taste again before the day was done. "And you'll not order me to stay behind when you've the right to do it?" she asked, needing to be sure he wasn't asking her to marry him simply to keep her out of harm's way.

"You would'na ever forgive me if I did," he replied, the hint of a smile on his be-whiskered face. "Should we talk to Tralin now or wait for morning?" he asked, not really looking forward to that talk, though the true king had already given him permission to court her.

"A swift word in Brodie's ear, and he can do the talking in our stead," Rose suggested a little impishly. She loved her brothers, but they did tend to try and protect her overmuch at times, even when they acknowledged her skills.

"You do nae think that's cheating?" he asked, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement. He didn't much care how it came about or who spoke with Tralin, so long as Rosemary was his, though there was a certain amount of male pride involved.

She laughed softly. "With Da and Duncan away, Brodie's the one in charge of me," she pointed out in amusement. "He's the one has to get permission from the king for any weddings in the family. Besides, he's been teasin' me so much these past months, he deserves to squirm a wee bit himself."

"Once we're wed, you'll be my responsibility," he remarked, though that probably went without saying. Would Brodie be annoyed or relieved? There was only one way to find out. "Shall we go find your brother and tell him the good news?"

"Aye, that's true," she agreed with a wicked flicker to her smile. "Think you're ready for that?" Despite his urging, she still wasn't moving, enjoying being held in his arms, having the freedom to touch his face, his chest, his arms, knowing for certain that if anyone caught them, the marriage they planned would simply be sped up even further.

"If that's what it takes to make you my wife, aye. I'm more than ready, lass," he assured her, with another touch of his lips to hers. He, too, seemed in no hurry to rush into that conversation with her brother, though he was anxious to make her his wife.

She giggled against his lips, easing closer, not further away, as unhurried as he seemed to be about actually approaching Brodie with their mutual decision. Lips caressed lips, fingers teased through hair, languid and loving, sharing smiles as much as kisses. Though the sooner they got moving, the sooner they could be wed, Rose was in no rush to leave this first embrace of many.

Though it had only been a few months, it seemed like he'd been waiting his whole life for her. Perhaps in a way he had been. No matter how much he might have longed for someone like her, it had taken an act of the goddess to bring him to her. Even now, with her right there in his arms, it seemed almost too believable to be true. "I am glad the Goddess chose me in answer to your prayer, Rose," he whispered, against her lips.
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Rosemary Anderson
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She drew back just a little, just far enough to meet his eyes. "Truly?" she asked softly. "Nae just because of me. You lost so much comin' here, to this time, this place. Your own home, your family. Are you truly glad to be here, Mal? For you do not have to be all the time."

He shook his head and shrugged a little. "There was nothing left for me after Mairi died," he told her, remarking on his sister's death back home in his own time, which was a little over one hundred years in the future. Not so far that things were all that different, but far enough that he had knowledge of how those last hundred years had fared.

"You didnae have a girl?" she asked, surprised she hadn't thought to ask before. He was a handsome man, mild-tempered and warm-hearted, with gentler ways than she was used to from the men that surrounded her. Yet she'd never before considered that someone else might have loved him, and that her prayer might have broken that someone's heart.

"Nae," he confirmed with another small shrug and shake of his head. It wasn't that no one had ever showed any interest so much as that he'd just never met anyone that could compete with his love of history. That he'd fallen in love with a woman from the past wasn't all that surprising, in light of that fact. "I just never had the time."

"But you've the time now?" she teased lightly, brushing her lips to the tip of his nose. "In the middle of a war, you've the time for love? You're a strange man, Malcolm Anderson."

"Aye," he readily agreed with a smile, as she kissed his nose. "Mayhaps I was only waiting for you," he said, though he'd had no way of knowing what awaited him in the future that had once been his past.

"Fell in love wi' a footnote in history, did you?" she laughed, nuzzling close for a long moment before finally making to stand, her slender hands curling into his to draw him up with her. "Don't forget your sword."

He could have made a lewd remark just then, but decided against it, chuckling a little at her reminder. "Do you think I will need it?" he teased, knowing they were going to speak with her brother.

Rose laughed with him, shaking her head. "He's more like to poke you with his quill," she agreed. Brodie was not the most warlike of her family, after all, and besides, he openly approved of Malcolm.

"He's a good man, your brother," Malcolm remarked as he moved to his feet and turned to retrieve his sword, before sliding it into the scabbard at his hip. Though he was fond of both her brothers, he and Brodie had formed a bond with their common love of books and history.

"Aye, he is." Rose paused as he sheathed his sword, claiming his hand with her own the moment it was free. "I'm lucky in my brothers, in my father. I'm lucky in you. Da might want tae hear the vows said again when we're all together, but he wouldn't say it's not a valid match just because he isnae here."

Malcolm turned her toward him, his hands upon her shoulders, a serious look on his face. "Rose, there's another reason I wish tae marry you before we go to Imbre," he confessed, though he did not deny that he loved her.

She frowned up at him, confusion mingling with a very faint sense of hurt. So his swift desire was more than just his love for her. "What is it that's so terrible you've a need to be wed before it happens?"

"Dalgleish," he replied simply enough, though that didn't fully explain his concerns regarding the man, at least, where Rose was concerned. There was obviously something he knew that she didn't, but perhaps it was time to tell her.

Her frown deepened in confusion. "What of him?" she asked, innocent of the man's ambitions. "He's nothing more'n a snake. When his burrow's burning, he'll try to wriggle free. Da won't let him."

Had she forgotten that he had knowledge of the future - or at least, a possible future - than no one else here possessed? "Rose," he started, taking her hands in his as if the simple gesture might bring her some comfort at what he was about to say. "Dalgleish wants to force you into marriage."

She snorted with laughter. "I'll cut his balls off first," she promised with easy glee. "Failin' that, I'd cut my own throat before I ever let him touch me. Dinnae look so worried, love. I'm harder to convince against my will than I look."

"Rose, it happened. Or at least, it was supposed to happen," he said, with that worried frown still on his face. If history had happened that way in his own time, would it somehow correct itself so that it happened that way again? He would do anything and everything to make sure that didn't happen again, even if it cost him his life.

"Aye, and you stopped it from happening," she told him, confident in that. "He'd have done that when we were captured, aye? But you were there. You got us out. Next time we're that close to the bastard, we'll be wed, and there's nothing he can do to change that or to make what he plans legal and binding. And nothing will hold me back from bleeding him dry if he gives me the opportunity."

"Aye, that is in part why we should be wed before we travel to Imbre," he explained further, though that was not the only reason why, especially if she insisted on going along.

She frowned up at him. "It worries you that much that you'd ask for my hand now, but without the worry, you'd wait?" she asked quietly, unable to hide the hurt that came with this thought. "Perhaps I should go with the bairns. I'll not force such a decision on you, Mal."

"Nae, but if you would go with me, I would rather you go as my wife," he told her, pausing a moment before continuing. "I have wanted to ask you for some time, but ..." He frowned again, unsure how to explain. "I thought your father might not approve or might think me hasty."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Mal, we're in war," she pointed him out. "All my life, we've been at war, hunted. Every moment is precious, because it could end at any time. If we don't live, there's nothing to fight for. So aye, I'll marry you, I'll fight at your side, and my father won't think any the less of you for haste. He trusts you, Mal, he always has. And he knows your intentions, if you've already asked the king for permission to court. Those two gossip like crows."

"It is because every moment is precious that I wish to wait no longer," he explained further. The trip to Imbre was just the catalyst that had caused his impatience in making her his. "It would be safer for you here, Rose," he added, that worried frown on his face again. "But I will not order you to stay." But if anything happened to her, he'd never forgive himself for allowing her to come along.

She held his gaze for a long moment. "You know, when I was ten years old, Tralin Nairn started making secret alliances outside Coimbra," she said, apparently at random. "He wanted to send me to Francia, to marry some cousin or nephew of that king, to keep me safe. My father told him if I didnae want to go, he wouldn't force me. I'm Coimbran to my toes, Mal. My mother died birthing me because heretics wouldn't allow her to birth her child in one of their temples. Far as I know, the Goddess has never turned anyone away just for not believing in Her, but their god killed my mother because she didn't believe in him. I've shed my blood to reclaim this land for Her. I'll not cower in Kediri while the war I was born to is won without me."

He smiled at her spunk and determination, having expected no less. That smile was a little worried, but it was full of pride and love, too. "I am Coimbran, too, Rose," he reminded her gently, his smile fading. "But now that we've changed things, I can'nae longer predict the future."

"Like the rest of us," she pointed out. "You've given us a chance to take back our land and set things right, a better chance than we would have had without you. A chance is all we needed, Mal. You'll just have to live your life with us now."

"I've nae desire to be anywhere but here with you, Rose," he assured her, clutching her hands to his chest and making no effort to hide the look of longing on his face. Perhaps his timing was a little suspect, but there was no doubt that he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his days with her.

She leaned into him as he gathered her hands to his chest, dark eyes skimming over every nuance of his face, admiring him with the same soft longing in her own gaze. "I s'pose I'll have to find a dress, then," she mused with teasing resignation. "Cannae marry you in my braes."

He laughed at her remark, amused that she'd insist on wearing a dress this once when to his knowledge, she never had before without an order from the king. "I would marry you even if you were wearing rags," he promised her, touching a kiss to the tip of her nose before hoisting her around the waist and spinning her in place. "Marry me today, Rose."
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Rosemary Anderson
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bright giggle escaped her lips as he lifted her up - an easy feat for a man of his size and strength, to hoist a small woman off her feet as she clung to him, laughing for sheer delight. "Aye, I'll marry you today," she promised him. "I'll marry you whenever, wherever you choose. But we've to tell Brodie and the king first."

"Oh, aye. I almost forgot!" He laughed as he set her down, his hands still poised at her waist. "I suppose we should do that, then," he said, reaching for her hand so that they could go in search of her brother first and then the king.

"Aye, we should," she agreed, her slender fingers curling between his. "They're in the main hall, last I heard." And given that her greatest skill was in finding out things that no one wanted her to know, that was a good place to start.

"Are you ready?" he asked, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. Though he was tempted to grab her hand and break into a run, he thought they should probably show a little more dignity than that.

"I'm always ready for you, love," she promised him with a low laugh, her fingers gripping the crook of his arm to pull him away from his set aside campfire toward the ramshackle collection of buildings that was the secret town of Wirth.

He led her in the direction of the main hall, his stomach tied up in knots, not just from excitement at the prospect of making her his wife, but nervousness, too. What if the king denied his request? What if, for some unknown reason, her brother did, too? He had no reason to believe that would happen, but until he knew he had their approval, he didn't want to assume.

By contrast, Rose seemed very confident, all but pulling him along with her, ignoring the guard that tried to stop them from entering while the king was busy. Tralin looked up from the map table in the center of the round room, a slow grin crossing his face at their approach. He turned that grin onto Brodie, who took one look at his sister's face and groaned.

"Da's goin' to kill me."

"Sire, please excuse the interruption," Malcolm started, with a short but respectful nod of his head. "If you would give us but a moment of your time," he said, not wanting to interrupt anything important, though it seemed from the look on both the king and Brodie's faces, they might already suspect what they were about.

The rebel king set down the parchment in his hand, his benevolent grin encompassing both the couple in front of him and the young man who stood in place as the head of his own family at his side. "I'm thinking you'll have a wee bit more'n a moment, Sir Mal," Tralin chuckled. "But say your piece, I'm agog."

Malcolm looked around, noting a few others in the room besides the king and Rosemary's brother. He recognized their faces and knew their names, but was not personally acquainted with them and was a little reluctant to speak in front of them. Despite that, he cleared his throat - a sure sign of nerves - and straightened his shoulders, taking Rose's hand snugly in his own.

"Sire, we - that is Rose and I - would like to ask permission to ..." he broke off a moment, before gathering his courage and coming out with it. "We'd like to ask permission to be wed."

Tralin Nairn, King of Coimbra or at least that part of it that was still loyal to the Goddess, let out a loud bark of laughter, and turned to lay his eyes on Brodie Adair at his side. "It's not my place to answer such a question," he said pointedly, deliberately putting his closest friend's youngest son in the firing line purely out of mischief. "What say you, young Brodie?"

Brodie sighed, glaring at his younger sister even as Rosemary flashed him a sweet smile in return. His eyes rose to Mal wearily. "If you promise not to let Duncan break my nose again," he said, "then you can marry the little hellion whenever you fancy."

"Oh, good, because we're getting married today!" Malcolm replied with a grin of his own. He hadn't been too worried about obtaining Brodie's or Tralin's permission, and truth be told, he didn't think Rose's father or brother would object either, though they might be sore they hadn't been there for the nuptials.

"I have a condition to add," the king commented, however, turning his head to look at his newest knight and one of his favorite little women in the camp.

Rose's eyes widened a little in alarm.

Tralin chuckled at the expression on her face. "A dress, little Rose," he told her, "that's all. And no weapons on either of you. It's a joining, not a blooding."

Of course, Tralin knew that Malcolm planned on going to Imbre and probably suspected that Rosemary wanted to go along. That alone was reason enough for them to want to be wed, but it wasn't the only reason. "I cannot answer for Rose, but as for myself, I agree to your terms. And if Duncan wants to break anyone's nose, it should be mine," Malcolm assured Brodie.

"If he breaks your nose, I'll break his cock," Rose flared beside him, utterly unashamed to be vulgar in the presence of a king she'd known as more of an uncle all her life. Her outburst drew laughter from those present, lairds and king and soldiers alike. Even Brodie snorted with laughter. She bit her lip as she subsided. "We're to be married today, then," she informed everyone there. "Aye, and I'll wear a dress. I may even wash."

Tralin chuckled. "I should write this day in the diary, then," he teased her cheerfully. "Not only wed, but washed, too!"

"If we are going to make this happen, we should probably get to it," Malcolm said, before the day got away from them. He wasn't expecting a feast or a big celebration and, in truth, didn't need one. All he ever needed was his Rosemary by his side, and his life would be complete.

"Aye, we should," Brodie agreed. "With your permission, sire?"

Tralin offered a nod, waving them away. "In the temple, one hour," the king suggested. "I'll make sure the Mother knows to expect you."

"Thank you, sire," Malcolm replied with another short bow of his head before tossing an arm around Brodie to steer him away with them. "Your elder brother has a strange way of showing his affection," he remarked, regarding the idea of Duncan breaking Brodie's nose.

Brodie chuckled, allowing himself to be lead from the main hall with his sister and soon-to-be brother. "He'll be naffed off he missed your big moment," he told Mal cheerfully. "Da'll be pleased, though. He was a wee bit worried you might make a bairn before asking for the vows."

"Was he now?" Malcolm asked, chuckling a little at the thought of that. He'd been nothing but a gentleman where Rose was concerned, but if they'd waited much longer, that might have changed. "Dun'nae worry. I'll handle Duncan," he assured the younger of Rosemary's brothers.

"It's fascinatin' the way everyone thinks I've no self-control," Rose grumbled from Malcolm's other side. "They all trust you, but I'm a wild card, it seems."

Brodie peered around Mal at his little sister. "Rosie ... you punched a cardinal when you were twelve," he reminded her. "You've always been a wild card."

"That's what we love most about you," Malcolm added, nudging his soon-to-be brother-in-law, "Isn't it, Brodie?" To put it mildly, Rose had spunk. Malcolm had noticed it right from the first moment they'd met. Not only was she beautiful, but she was smart and brave, too. "And I suspect the cardinal had it coming," he added quietly, with a smirk.

"I'm not sayin' that out loud where she can hear me," Brodie laughed, lurching away as Rose's hand slithered around Mal's back to try and pinch him. "Cardinal could have done without the little fist in his bollocks. All he did was call her m'lady."

Malcolm laughed. "I would've liked to have seen that," he replied with a grin. "We'd better hurry. We've only an hour to make ourselves presentable," he reminded them. It wasn't just Rose who needed to clean up and change for their wedding.

"Aye, you should," Brodie agreed as they turned toward the part of the ramshackle town that belonged to Clan Adair. "Marie'll be beside herself wi' delight to cram you back into that dress, Rosie."

Rose stuck her tongue out at her brother. "No ink on your fingers, Brod," was all she said in response, pausing to grip Mal's tunic and pull him down for a kiss. "No runnin' away," she added to him with a grin.

"It's a wee bit late for that," Malcolm replied with a chuckle once he'd returned her kiss, a sidelong grin at Brodie. "One hour, Rose," he promised. One more hour and she'd be his.

"One hour," she agreed, ducking into the house ahead of them to disappear along the passageway.

Brodie chuckled, shaking his head. "You know, she told me when you arrived she was goin' to marry you," he informed Malcolm, leading the way toward the man's personal chamber. "I don't think she realized you would want to, though."

"Did she?" Malcolm asked, brows arching upwards, an amused smile on his face. He'd thought there might be a mutual attraction between them almost from the start. It hadn't been long after that he'd obtained permission to court her, but he hadn't imagined she might feel the same.

Brodie laughed at the look on his face, pushing him in through the door. "Aye, she did," he nodded, gesturing for Mal to make use of the jug and basin on the windowsill. "Told Morwen, too, and got permission for it from her. Princess might not be your sister, Mal, but she certainly acts like it!"

"Aye," Malcolm murmured quietly at the mention of Morwen, who looked almost exactly like his late sister, just as he resembled her late brother. The Goddess worked in mysterious ways, it seemed - ways Malcolm could not always understand. He didn't say anything more about that, as it pained him to think of Mairi, though he was grateful for Morwen.

Brodie, thankfully, was not as dense as Duncan. He knew mentions like that hit a sore spot. "Wash yourself up," he told his friend. "I'll dig out your best. Should prob'ly find a comb for that nest you call hair, too."

Thankfully, too, Brodie knew how and when to lighten a mood, as evidenced by the grin on Malcolm's face as he gave the younger man an affectionate shove and started toward the wash basin. But first, he unbuckled his sword belt and set that aside. No weapons - the king had been clear.

Though Malcolm was an Anderson, and had been embraced by that clan in this time, he was closest to the Adairs, a clan and family he had studied long past the time when they had been wiped out. His mere presence in this time had ensured that did not come to pass, and now his bloodline would mingle with theirs. It was more than a chance at life - it was living. Here and now, he was making his own history, and that was better than any dream.
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