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A Cause For Celebration

 
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Brynhilde
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:32 am    Post subject: A Cause For Celebration Reply with quote

((Warning - contains material of an adult nature.))

June 26th, 1616

The Great Temple of Carib in Cluaine Mor was at once the same as every other Great Temple of Meringia, and yet different. The same, in that its focus was the enormous statue of the Goddess, her arms outstretched to welcome everyone; different, in that it was open to the elements in this arid land where the rains fell only lightly and with predictable infrequency. A stone henge of the same sand-colored granite that had been used to build the city ringed the Temple, the benches carved of that same stone. And on this day, the Temple and its surrounding environs was filled with as many people as had been able to enter or find a good view - noble and common, baron and horse lord alike.

For today was the day their young queen would take a new husband, and crown him their king, ushering in a new age of monarchy for this beleaguered nation. And indeed, there had been plenty to see thus far. From the nobles in their finery, to the Archon and his lieutenants in polished black leather, to the groom himself, and finally the queen. Brynhilde had chosen to enter the Temple, not on the arm of a baron or horse lord, but with Elspeth as her escort, and the two women had set tongues wagging the moment they came into view. Their progress down the aisle together would be a source of gossip for weeks to come, for together they had smashed several preconceived ideas about royal modesty and gowns.

Brynhilde wore the wedding clothes Elspeth had made for her - trews and soft shirt in the gentle blue of Edessa, overlaid with a split-skirted tabard of white and silver silk, her arms left bare by the loose sway of sheer sleeves. Gold ringed her waist, and decorated her head, rubies in the crown she was slowly becoming used to wearing.

At her back, Elspeth's garb echoed the bride's - trews and tabard, in a darker hue of Edessan blue and royal purple, a horse lord's linked chain decorating her neck and shoulders. She delivered Brynhilde to Henry and stepped aside with a smile, content to watch the ceremony that would join them without comment.

Harry was only mildly surprised by the appearance of his bride, as he'd been somewhat forewarned by his sister, though he'd had no real idea what to expect. Even so, he couldn't have imagined a lovelier bride, however she was dressed, and he greeted her with a smile that betrayed his feelings, making no attempt to hide his affection for her. They had been parted for too long, and he was anxious to make her his wife at long last.

Hand in hand, they stood before the priestess and shared their vows, promising themselves as man and wife before the Goddess and all there present. Yet, as they were declared man and wife, there was no cheer from the watchers. Instead, a deathly hush fell over them, for now came the moment that would make them a kingdom once again. The royal crown that had once graced Peter's unwilling head was borne to the dais on a cushion of deep crimson velvet, all eyes turning to watch its progress.

Brynhilde smiled at Henry, her husband, one hand stroking his cheek gently. "Kneel, my lord," she told him, and her voice carried to the furthest reaches of the henge that ringed them. Everyone knew what was happening now.

This wasn't just about a wedding, but a coronation, and it was that which made Harry nervous, or rather, that act of becoming king. Would he be a good king? A just king? An honorable king? Would he make his wife, his sister, his family proud? There was no more time for doubts and worries; the time had come to take this last step and hope that he was worthy. It was not something he could do alone, but with Brynhilde by his side, all things were possible. He moved reverently to one knee, bowing his head to whisper a quiet prayer to the Goddess for guidance before he officially became King of Carib.

The priestess stepped forward, waiting until he was ready before dipping her thumb into the consecrated oil to draw the Goddess' symbol upon his brow. "Thus I anoint you with Oil of Silvis, and in so doing cleanse you of any wrongdoing that may mar your past, any unworthiness others may accuse you of. With this anointing, the Goddess gives Her favor, and lays Her hand upon Henry, chosen King of Carib."

Lifting the crown from the cushion, Brynhilde held it high for all the onlookers to see as she, herself, intoned the questions of the oath. "Will you, Henry, solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of Carib according to their laws and customs? Will you cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments? And will you in your power maintain the laws of the Goddess and defend her clergy against the stain of heresy?"

A hush fell upon all those gathered around as they waited for the Queen's husband to take the vows that would make him their King. Harry had practiced all this well in advance and knew what was expected of him. He did not have to make any speeches, nor was anything else expected of him but to take these vows and promise to be a just King in the eyes of the queen, the people, the court, the clergy, and most importantly, the Goddess. "I, Henry, do solemnly swear to do all these things to the best of my ability and effort, as the Goddess is my witness."

Brynhilde smiled at him, turning to lower the crown onto his head with as much ceremony as she could muster. "Then I crown you Henry, King of Carib, the first of your name. Arise and greet your people." She offered him her hand to help him to his feet as behind her the priestess intoned the final words of the ceremony.

"Hail King Henry! Hail Queen Brynhilde! Long may they reign!"

And the Temple erupted into howling cheers, commons and nobles and horse lords alike wildly celebrating the coronation of their king.

He took Bryn's hand as he moved to his feet, the crown not as heavy as he'd imagined atop his head, his heart swelling with pride at the roar of cheers from the crowd of onlookers who were now his subjects, loyal or not. Smiling and hand in hand with Bryn, they turned to face their subjects, and he raised a hand to acknowledge their cheers.

In front of them, in pride of place, Elspeth was cheering as loudly as any of the horse lords, any hope of dignity utterly forgotten in the face of this very special event.

Brynhilde laughed, relief flooding her that finally they had done what they had set out to do, squeezing Henry's hand as she looked to him. "Shall we, then, my king?" she asked warmly. "I fear we have a rather boring few hours of oaths to be sworn and feast to eat before we can escape all this adulation."

And once they escaped, they would at last share a bed as husband and wife, but that was nothing for either of them to fear - he would make sure of it. "As you wish, my queen," he replied, his voice soft with affection, eyes warm with adoration.

Inclining her head in answer to his agreement, she stepped forward, drawing him with her at a stately pace along the wide aisle toward the street beyond the boundary of the Temple, where their horses waited to carry them back to Caislean Dha. Behind them, Elspeth fell into step as the next ranked of the court, her champion at her back, the Archon and his wife behind them. It was a stately procession, and filled with smiles, for as they passed each rank, both king and queen were greeted with the joyful sound of their names on the lips of their people, celebrating with them the new monarchy and the promise of a better future.

Harry - or King Henry as he would now be known - was encouraged by the people's cheers, though he was not so naive as to think they were all happy to see a pair of foreigners on the throne. Still, he hoped they together he and Brynhilde could win their loyalty, if not their love, as they worked together to rebuild and reunite the country that had been entrusted to them.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The journey back to the castle was littered with cheers, with thrown petals, the crowds held back by the army that had been created from their own ranks when Brynhilde had been their elderly king's new bride. Proud to be the King's Guard, they kept their royal family safe from the adoration of the crowds that lined the streets without the need for violence, allowing those crowds to celebrate with the extra food and wine that had been given to them for the occasion when the rulers of the realm were safely out of harm's way.

The throne room of Caislean Dha fairly shone, the sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows illuminating the twin thrones with dappled light. As Henry and Brynhilde took their places on those thrones, there was another rippling cheer, but the nobles were already lining up to swear their fealty, to bend the knee and kiss the hand of their king.

Settling in, Brynhilde made herself comfortable on her throne. "This is going to take a while," she warned Henry in amusement. "When I did it, it took three days. But only the highest ranked will be swearing to you today."

"I am hoping it will not take so long as that," Harry replied with a smile as he settled himself beside her, one hand in hers, the other resting lightly upon the throne. It felt strange to be in such a position of honor as this, though he thought he'd have to get used to it, and he was starting to understand what a weight of responsibility it truly was to be rule a nation, no matter how many were there to help and advise you, but at least he was not alone. "I am looking forward to having you all to myself," he whispered, daring to lean close enough to offer a kiss, unconcerned who might be watching as they were now married in the eyes of the church.

No doubt he was delighted to see his cool and collected wife blush at this whisper, her lips smiling against his in shy sharing of that eagerness. "May our night be long and sleepless," she countered fondly, careful to remember to acknowledge each oath as it was made, as the men and women of their court went down on one knee to swear loyalty to them.

He only half paid attention to the various oaths. He would likely forget the names and faces by morning, as he was already drunk with love for his bride and eager to prove it to her once they were alone. Thankfully, the celebration would last well into the next day, so nothing urgent was expected of them and they could languish in bed as long as they wished.

And in Carib, there was no humiliating tradition of bedding the newly-wedded couple. They would be allowed to escort themselves to their chambers, and to remain there as long as they wished, though undoubtedly the business of the realm would keep them from disappearing for more than a day. "I feel I should warn you, your majesty," Brynhilde murmured to her husband, kissing his fingertips as she squeezed his hand, "that I have seen others bed one another, but never attempted such a thing myself. I may make some dreadful mistakes."

She was likely one step ahead of him then, though he knew what went where and why. He'd never had much time for carousing, and while he didn't mind if she knew it, he didn't want his people to think him weak. He leaned close to whisper, for her ears only, "Then we shall learn together."

"Caoimhe, the Archon's wife, offered to draw me a series of illustrations if we needed it," she whispered back to him, laughing even as she shared this information. Caoimhe MacTeer was almost as imposing as her husband, close to six feet tall and heavily pregnant, yet still lithe and heavily armed in company.

That statement made Harry break into laughter. As if he needed a diagram to show him what to do. Even if they fumbled awkwardly, they would do it together; they would learn together and they would love together. "That might be amusing," he admitted with a grin.

"Should I ask her, then?" Bryn asked him innocently enough. "Or perhaps we should ask for such a book for the next royal wedding, instead?" Not that she would ever show such a thing to Elspeth; sadly, of all of them, the red-haired heir to the throne knew intimately the mechanics of the act, yet not the loving nature of it.

"I do not think it is necessary, but if it amuses my queen, then by all means," Harry replied, unable to suppress the grin from his face. He felt both happy and relieved now that the ceremony was over, though in a few days' time, the real work would begin now that he was officially king.

The court could not have guessed what they were talking about, but it pleased both sides of them to see their king and queen smiling and laughing together. Elspeth had managed to find herself a comfortable seat in a window, and after a moment of wrangling with the hanging strip of skirt, gave up and simply crossed her legs, one knee over the other, much to the scandalized glances of the northern noblewomen.

"And how do you think it went, Lord Miles?" she asked her now constant shadow with a warm smile. "I have never been to a coronation before."

Considering the fact that he was her officially appointed constant shadow, Miles was perfectly within his rights to remain close by her side, though he remained standing. "No one is shouting or bleeding," he pointed out helpfully, an almost teasing smile on his face. "I would judge it a success."

"Do people often shout and bleed at a coronation?" she asked in alarm, thinking of the cousin who would have to go through this ceremony himself when his father died. "They seemed so happy out in the streets, but here ..." She glanced around, shaking her head. "I don't know. I feel watched - not openly, but covertly, as though they are waiting for me to make my first mistake."

He chuckled, though there was some irony in his statement. Not everyone was happy with this match or with the idea of being ruled by foreigners, but thus far, no one had dared challenge it since those responsible for an assassination attempt were executed. "Relax, Princess. I am only teasing," he assured her with a smile, though he, too, had noticed the glances her way, covert as they'd been or not. "Perhaps you are not what they were expecting. They will come to love you in time, to be sure," he said. Failing that, they might at least come to respect her.

"I must admit, I am a little intimidated," she confessed, sipping from the cup in her hand as they spoke. "I know my brother, and he will not waste any time that is given to him for leisure in work. So it would seem that I will be holding court tomorrow, alone. I am glad you will be there."

"I am glad, as well," he agreed, not bothering to mention how pleased and even relieved he was that he had been appointed her champion. He had to admit he was growing quite fond of the redheaded princess, and he could not abide the thought of anyone else taking his place. "The king and queen seem quite happy, do they not?" he asked, glancing over at the couple in question.

Elspeth followed his glance, smiling at the sight of Harry and Bryn laughing together even as they accepted the formal oaths of fealty. "They have loved one another a long time without speaking of it," she told him quietly, lowering her voice further for his ears only. "In truth, they knew they were promised to one another before she ever set foot here and married old King Peter. He was very jealous of her first husband. It was very funny to watch."
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Jealous of an old man who couldn't perform his husbandly duties?" Miles asked, seemingly amused by the thought of that. A man who had also been old and sickly and not long for this world. "He did not have to wait very long to make her his wife," he added, with a small frown, finding himself wondering if Elspeth would be as lucky as her brother.

"As I understand it, only an Edessan queen is acceptable to the kings of Meringia," Elspeth pointed out, rising to her feet. "I feel ridiculous sitting down while you stand. I'm small enough next to you as it is."

And as if giving emphasis to that comparison, they were eclipsed by the arrival of Lorcan MacTeer, the Archon's eldest son at sixteen, who managed a rough bow. "Princess, Lord Bradan," he greeted them. "A fine day for a wedding, is it not?"

Miles opened his mouth to speak, but whatever it was he was about to say was cut off by the untimely arrival of the Archon's son. Miles visibly tensed, though Lorcan seemed friendly enough. Though the two men were acquainted, they had never been friends, and he had a feeling the man had only joined them for Elspeth's sake. "Every day is a fine day for a wedding, I think."

"True, but a wedding day is a fine day for thoughts of the future, too," Lorcan said. He was a mature enough man not to hold their misadventure on the road against Miles, but not quite mature enough not to say what came out next. He looked down at Elspeth, who was dwarfed by both of them standing so near. "Princess, would you consider wedding me? I have rank and status, and will give your brother fifty head of horse and cattle for your hand in marriage."

Stunned by the unexpected proposal, Elspeth stared at him, her mouth working silently for a long moment. She knew as well as anyone that she couldn't laugh at him for saying such a ridiculous thing to her face. "I-I ..." She swallowed, glancing at Miles as though hoping he could help her here. "I believe such a request should go to the king and queen, and not on their wedding day, sir."

Miles, too, was mature enough not to hold the boy's mistake against him, mostly for the sake of peace, for that mistake could easily have cost Elspeth and her people their lives. He visibly flinched and stiffened at the man's next statement, shocked he would be so bold as to ask for her hand already when the king and queen had not even consummated their marriage yet. It further irked him that the man seemed to think he could buy the princess' hand in marriage in exchange for horses and cattle. It was almost an insult, as far as he was concerned, and the muscles jumped in his jaw at the thought of it and of her married to such a brute. "Anxious to secure yourself a place in the royal family?" he asked, knowing he was courting danger by doing so.

Lorcan's chin snapped up at Miles' less than diplomatic response to his proposal to the princess, and he, too, stiffened, a warning in his eyes as his shoulders set firm. "You should keep out of what is not your business," he told the other man. "Why should I not aspire to wed the beauty in this land? Marriage to me would strengthen the bonds between north and south. And you are nothing more than a lesser son of a lord. You can't even hope for what I am bold enough to request."

Miles did not want to spar verbally or otherwise with the man, but his pride would not allow him to let it go without defending himself and his own place at court. "A lesser son who has earned his place as the lady's champion, rather than tried to buy his way into the royal family," he pointed out. Though it was true he was not the eldest son, his father's rank at court was nothing to sneeze at.

"You think I care for royalty?" Lorcan snorted, a young man's opinions spouted without thought. "What has your northern royalty ever done for us?"

"A great deal more than you seem to think, and you should lower your voice," a feminine tone spoke from behind him.

Lorcan's face paled at the sound of his mother's interjection, turning to find her standing there with a stern look in her eyes for him.

"Go to your father and stay by his side," Caoimhe ordered her eldest son. "No more of this, or you and I will have words."

The teenaged son of the Archon opened his mouth to object, but knew better than to contradict his own mother. He subsided, only just remembering to bow to the princess, and stalked off, muttering to himself.

Caoimhe rolled her eyes as she smiled, turning back to Elspeth and Miles. "Children," she sighed. "They think they know everything. I apologize for my son; he does not have the best sense of timing."

Miles knew better than to take sides against a mother's son, even if she had just scolded that same son. "Apologies, lady," Miles said, offering her a respectful nod of his head. "I did not mean to offend."

"Neither did I," Elspeth apologized in her own turn, trying not to crawl inside her own shell once again.

Caoimhe looked the pair of them over in amusement. "Well, he did intend to offend, and he will be punished for it," she informed them both. "Princess ... he will not push his proposal, I promise you, or if he does, he will do it properly, through his father and your brother." She bent, murmuring something into Elspeth's ear that made the redhead blush wildly and glance at Miles as though expecting him to have heard it despite the whisper. Laughing, Caoimhe inclined her head to them both. "Enjoy the day, princess. Lord Bradan."

Miles knew it was not his place to interrupt or to comment on whatever it was the lady had whispered into Elspeth's ear, no matter the blush it might have brought to her cheeks. He was not so egotistical to think it might have been about him, assuming it was merely some motherly advice of some sort for the princess. "I would ask leniency for your son's sake, lady," he said, on Lorcan's behalf. Though the young man had been rude and presumptuous, Miles thought he had suffered enough wounds to his pride for one day.

"And risk him speaking direct to the princess in such a way again?" Caoimhe pointed out, her voice calm but stern. "Give me leave to discipline my own as I see fit, my lord. I may be a woman, and a breeding one at that, but I can still spank the boy if he won't learn his lessons. But for your sake, I will wait until we are camped tonight." She flashed them a smile, offering a bow of her own over her gravid belly, before turning to slip between the crowds. Curious eyes were turning toward Miles and Elspeth, and the redhead could almost hear the unspoken questions in the air.

"Well, I suppose it is my duty to provide gossip," she said eventually, looking up at Miles and feeling her cheeks flush gently once again.

"It's not your fault Lorcan overstepped himself," Miles replied, not bothering to add "again". The boy seemed to be almost trying too hard to make his mark on the world. "I suppose I should know my own place," he said, further, knowing Lorcan outranked him, as eldest son of the Archon, though Miles was a few years older and it seemed, a few years wiser.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without thinking, Elspeth reached out to touch his arm lightly. "Your place is at my side," she reminded him. "My chosen champion and my friend. No one can take it from you, and any man who challenges you over this place can take it up with me." Which was patently absurd, since for a while the day before, Miles had been thoroughly entertained by the sight of Elspeth drinking copious amounts of wine just to be able to talk to the men and women she did not know in the room.

"He was not challenging my place as champion," Miles reminded her, though he had no right to presume anything else but that they were friends. She would have plenty of suitors before long with Lorcan at the top of the list. Still, it would be up to her and the king and queen who, if anyone, won her hand in marriage.

"Aye, and that challenge was not becoming of him," she said, drinking from her cup. "Besides, he's a child playing at being a man. I might not be very old myself, but I would hardly marry someone who doesn't even know how to be friendly when he wants something."

"He will not be the only one to ask, Princess. He is only the first," Miles reminded her again. He wondered briefly what would happen if he courted her himself, but the possibility seemed so unlikely, he dared not consider it long. Still, stranger things had been known to happen, as evidenced by his sudden appointment as her champion.

"And I have already been promised by my brother, and by my new sister, that I will never be forced to marry anyone," she told him, knowing full well that she could be overheard as she said it. Let the scheming barons think about that for a while - they wouldn't be able to make the best case to the king and expect him to order her. They would have to woo her, and none of them knew her yet. "When I marry, it will be to a man of my choosing."

"Spoken like a true rebel," Miles remarked quietly, for her ears alone, an amused smirk on his face. She'd spoken loud enough to be overheard by any who might be thinking of courting her, but he had not, and it amused him to no end to find that she was as rebellious as he was.

Yet Elspeth didn't consider her forthright declaration to be rebellious, merely a free expression of her own rights and nature. That was the influence of a lower class upbringing - she hadn't been raised to obey meekly when a husband was chosen for her, but to choose her own, or at least to have a say in her own marriage. Her brother had the same opinion, too. Anyone seeking to force a marriage onto any young woman in Carib was likely to have a few problems from now on.

But for now, the marriage they were celebrating was that of the king and queen, and with the oaths sworn, the court adjourned to the feasting hall to eat, drink, and be merry. Nine courses crossed their paths, with music and dancing to entertain them as they ate. The feasting and celebration would go on late into the night, but the newly-weds would not be present for all of it. Indeed, it was around sunset that the court noticed their monarchs' absence. Only Elspeth had seen them go, hiding her smile as Brynhilde and Henry snuck out of their own feast to celebrate their marriage together, in private.

Instructions had been given not to disturb the newlywed royals at least until breakfast, but it would likely be a few days before they reappeared in court and returned to their duties. Until then, the couple was locked away in their private rooms, away from the public eye so that they could do what newly married couples did and enjoy the fruits of their marriage in private. Only the Queen and the King would know went on behind closed doors.

They weren't left alone until the crowns and jewels had been removed, trusted servants taking these precious signs of wealth and position to their accustomed place under guard for the night. But finally, left alone in the light of the setting sun, Brynhilde faced Henry as a wife to her husband, a little shy but warm and smiling. "So here we are," she said softly, flicking her now unbound hair out of her face.

"Here we are," Harry echoed with a nervous smile. They'd both been dancing around the subject of what would happen once the wedding was over and they were alone, agreeing to learn together what it was to be a man and a wife, and yet, now that the time had come, he felt more nervous than even he'd expected.

Face to face, Bryn laughed a little, biting her lip as she glanced down at her hands before raising her eyes to his once again. "I don't know what to do," she admitted. "Am I supposed to strip for you?"

"Uh," Harry replied uncertainly, which wasn't much of a reply. He didn't think there were any rules or ritual that he knew of; he only knew they were expected to consummate the marriage and make babies to carry on the royal bloodline. He knew what went where and why, but how did they start? "Perhaps ..." His gaze darted to the royal bed with its pile of bedding to hide beneath, despite the warm evening. "Perhaps we should blow out the candles and get under the covers," he suggested, though he wasn't sure how they'd manage to get their clothes off that way. "Or I could turn around while you undress and then you do the same."

Bryn considered this for a moment, almost glad that he seemed as at a loss as she was. At least this way neither one of them would know if the other wasn't doing it properly. "Unlace me?" she asked, turning to show him the laces under her arms that held the tabard overdress in place. "The shirt beneath is long ... I could undress to that without either of us blushing." Despite herself, she had approached the problem from a tactical viewpoint without thinking. Hopefully she wasn't going to approach consummating their marriage like an act of war.

Years from now, they might laugh about this, but right now, they were both a little bit shy and nervous and awkward as they tried to navigate the ways of the marriage bed. "Very well," he replied, though he knew very little of women's clothing or of how to get a woman out of said clothing. Still, it seemed a simple enough thing to do as she asked, hoping she wouldn't notice his awkwardness as he plucked at the laces.

Holding her arms out of his way, one at a time, Bryn took the few minutes it took to unlace her dress to study her husband with fond eyes. He had always been nothing but respectful and warm with her, a gentle nature despite the roughness in his upbringing contrasting - she thought - with her harder way of looking at the world. When he was done, she turned to him, capturing his face between her hands to draw him close and share a soft kiss. "I'll never hurt you, Harry," she promised him quietly. "Ever."

He was surprised by the way she captured his face in her hands and looked into his eyes, her kiss so soft and sweet, it took his breath away. "I know, Bryn, and I'll never hurt you either." He frowned a little, knowing there was likely to be pain before there was pleasure. "Not all of it will be pleasant at first," he warned her, unsure how much she might already know.

She stroked his cheek gently. "I've been riding and fighting all my life," she reminded him in a quiet voice. "There is a chance that I am already broken, as it were. My mother was, and Gerda was, too. There might not be pain after all, dear heart."

"Perhaps," he said, hoping she was right. He didn't want to cause her any pain, especially not when he wanted to give her pleasure. He almost wished someone had spoken to him of such things, prepared him for this. He could have asked Stephan, but he'd been too shy to do so. "Well ..." he said, obviously nervous, but eager, too.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Drawing in a deep breath, she stepped back, hooking the tabard over her head to turn away as she set it over the back of a chair. A moment later, the sleeves joined it, and her hands fell to the laces of her trews as she toed her way out of her boots. For a moment, she had forgotten she was disrobing for her husband - this was the way she undressed every night, eager to get into bed. It was certainly a new insight for Harry into his new wife's pleasure in privacy.

He watched, entranced, for a moment before turning respectfully away, though the view, as the woman before him, belonged to him now, and he had every right to watch her as she undressed. Still, he turned away, not because he wasn't enjoying the view, but because he didn't want to embarrass her. If she wanted him to watch, she would have to turn him back to face her. He busied himself tugging off his own boots, while she the same behind him.

Thankfully, she had been right about the length of the shirt. Evidently Elspeth had miscalculated just how long her new sister's torso was - the hem of the sleeveless blue shirt hung to mid-thigh on Brynhilde. Perfectly modest, but for the fact that they both knew there was nothing else on her body. Her fingers combed nervously through the long pale fall of her hair as she smiled over at Harry. "I don't mind you looking," she heard herself say, moving to kneel on the bed comfortably. "I'm yours to do with as you wish."

"I don't want to make you uncomfortable," he said, though he wondered if he wasn't the one being shy, rather than her. He wasn't ashamed of his body, but no one had ever seen him naked since he'd been a small boy, and even then, it had only been his mother.

"Would you like me to look away?" she asked, surprised by her own boldness. She had expected to be shy and awkward, to fumble and blush and make mistakes. Her first wedding night had been nothing like this; a night spent sleeping at the foot of her new husband's bed, trying not to disturb the elderly man she had married. This was a completely different experience, and one she was pleased to be having. "Or I could wear a blindfold?"

The suggestion of a blindfold, at least, made him laugh. "No, don't be silly. I'm just ..." He trailed off. Just what? He was acting like a child, that's what. He turned back to face her, a small frown on his face. "Perhaps we should undress together," he suggested, though it seemed she was already ahead of him.

She smiled, settling onto her heels against the soft coolness of the sheets below her, and raised her hand, beckoning to him with one crooked finger. "Come here, love," she told him, patting the bed beside her. "We have all night. No one is watching us to make sure it happens. We can take our time."

She was right about that. They had all night, and there was certainly no hurry. The truth was he wanted to take his time and savor every moment, but then, he felt like if he didn't have her soon, he might die of longing. He went to her, reaching for her hand as he sat down beside her, frowning with worry. "I don't know how to begin," he admitted, despite having promised her they'd learn together.

"Neither do I," she reassured him softly, inching closer to brush the tip of her nose to his. "So let's just ... try it like this." Her lips touched his, soft, gentle, asking rather than demanding. She lingered in that kiss for a long while, taking her time, savoring the taste of him, the feel of him so close, the luxury to take their time together, before her hands slowly rose to undo the lacing on his light doublet. One thing at a time.

One thing at a time, one piece of clothing at a time, little by little inching closer to that which would bring them together as husband and wife once and for all. He was tender in his kisses, savoring the sweetness of her lips, as she moved to undo his doublet. His hands rose to help her, shrugging the thing off at long last - peeling away one layer at a time.

Despite her impatience, she forced herself to linger again when the doublet finally came away, still trading smiling, tender kisses as her fingertips skimmed the soft line of his skin above the neck of his shirt. The last thing she wanted to do was rush him, to make him feel as though he were not everything she had dreamed of for months now, and if the price of that was to take her time and deny her own longing a little while longer, it was a price she was willing to pay. When her hands moved again, it was to give him warning, skimming down over his chest to dip beneath the hanging hem and begin to draw it upward.

Despite his nervousness, he was as anxious to have her as she was to have him, curious what loveliness was barely hidden beneath the thin layer of her chemise. He knew what a woman was supposed to look like beneath the cover of clothes, but he'd never shared a bed. All of this was new to him, though he'd dreamed of this moment while he'd lie awake in bed, thinking of her while she was far away and wed to another man. Now that she was his wife and all their secrets were about to be revealed, he found his eagerness far outweighed his nervousness - eager enough to help her with his shirt. He only hoped she wouldn't be too disappointed by what lay beneath.

How could she be disappointed with him? He was the only man she'd ever desired this way, the only man she'd ever looked on with loving eyes. She was glad not to find scars on his form, glad he had never felt the pain of injury or infection. Her fingers touched his skin, eager to learn every contour of his body, to discover how and where he liked to be touched. Without quite realizing how, she found herself straddling his lap, easing him back with soft kisses that began to travel from his mouth, to his throat, to the no-longer-forbidden reaches of his chest.

His arms went around her waist as she found her way to his lap, fingers bunching in the fabric of her undergarment - the last piece of clothing to cover her curves. His face flushed as with a fever as she eased his onto his back, kisses traded back and forth before her lips wandered. He thought he should be doing the wooing, but he was reluctant to stop her, knowing his desire for her would become obvious before too much longer. Still, his hands seemed to have a mind of their own as they skimmed her chemise, tracing the supple curves of her body with his fingers.

She did not wander for long, returning to his lips with smiling kisses, feeling the tension in him matching her own as her fingers deftly undid the laces of his trews. Yet that was all she did, unwilling to strip of that last barrier between them as she trembled under the tracing tenderness of his hands. Drawing in a slow breath, she raised herself up, her blush just enough warning of her boldness as she slowly peeled the soft chemise up and over her head, baring herself to her husband's eyes.

Bare to his eyes at last, his gaze wandered over her lovely curves, candlelight flickering and casting shadows against the walls. He did little more than admire her for a moment, before he dared lift a hand to touch her, his hands calloused by years of hard work but gentle to the touch.

She bore the scars of several battles, a lifetime of being raised as a warrior leaving their mark on her soft skin. A slash over her ribs on the right side; a puncture wound above her left hip; the long line of a wicked blade at her thigh. But her scars were not all that she was, for they only emphasized the feminine form that was bare to his eyes, vulnerable to his touch. The juxtaposition of a woman who was fearless in battle to the woman who knelt over him, trembling at his touch, was clear to see. This was a side of her that only Harry would ever see, her gift to him for the lifetime to come.

He grew bolder, encouraged by her reaction to his touch, by the trembling he felt beneath his hand as he traced the soft curves of her body, lingering a moment as his fingers found each scar. Her scars pained him, knowing she was more at home with a sword than was he, but that was the way of things in Edessa, and he had not been raised in the ways of war, the way she had; and yet, he found it strange that he loved her even more for those scars. He pushed her over onto her back, adding kisses to caresses as he explored her body, reveling in each small discovery she had to offer.
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Brynhilde
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And so it went, this gentle, tender back and forth between them, the sharing of kisses and caresses as they learned one another with the luxury of time and privacy to do it together. A true wedding night, a coming together of two houses to create something wholly new, and at the center of it all, the two young monarchs who would found a new dynasty in this very bed. It was not the sweetly sensual romance they might have expected - neither one of them was practiced, and there were mistakes made on both sides, but they were mistakes made in love and forgiven with laughter. And to her joy, Brynhilde found that her friend's prediction had been correct - there was no pain. Only the strange awkwardness of being so very close to another being, an awkwardness that lingered even when they were done and lying sated in one another's arms.

Nothing he knew of bedding a woman or anything anyone would have told him could have prepared him for what had passed between them, and he knew at last what he had been missing and what made for such a sacred union between a man and a woman. He said nothing for a time, but only held her close, feeling more content than he'd ever thought possible. He was almost afraid to speak, to shatter the quiet of the moment, the spell that had been cast between them, but at long last, he broke the silence, his voice quiet in the darkness. "Are you all right?" he asked, though he didn't seem to have caused her any harm.

She smiled softly, tilting her head on the pillow beside his to find his gaze in the darkness that enveloped them. "No, love," she promised him softly. "I am far more than that. I am yours, truly and without rival. And I think we will have a lot of fun making our dynasty."

He couldn't help but smile at that, not only relieved by her response but amused and encouraged by it. Another woman might not be so bold or self-assured to make such a claim, but he had learned a long time ago that his Bryn was not just any woman - she was very special, and she belonged to him, as he belonged to her. "I think you may be right," he replied - at least, if tonight was anything to go by.

She laughed softly, rising up onto one elbow to trace her fingertip along his jaw and down over his chest. "And what of you?" she asked him with languid good humor. "Did I hurt you?" Neither one of them was foolish enough to think that she couldn't hurt him, but she didn't want to do it, even without intention.

"No, love. You didn't hurt me," he assured her, a soft smile on his face, as he caught her fingers and touched them to his lips. "You gave me the most precious gift anyone could ever give," he told her, not necessarily meaning her body, so much as her heart.

"A gift that keeps on giving," she teased, leaning down to brush her lips to his even as she giggled at her own joke. "I am going to find it very difficult to let you out of this bed come the morning, you know. I hope your sister will forgive our tardiness in returning to court."

"I do not think we are expected in court for some days," he remarked, touching a kiss to the tip of her nose as the two of them languished in bed. A small smirk appeared on his face, almost embarrassed to ask, but unable to hold himself back. "Do you think we should try again? They say practice makes perfect."

"Mm, that is true," she agreed merrily, nuzzling to him with fond affection. "I think we really should be experts by the time we have to face the world again, don't you? And that will take a lot of practice." Grinning, she nipped softly at his chin, clambering over him with more eagerness than grace.

There was no argument there, as eager as she was to master the ways of coupling, no matter how long it took or how often they had to practice. They were just getting started, after all, and though they had the rest of their lives to practice, they were both eager for the other. It was a good sign and boded well for the possibility of children.

So while the city celebrated the establishment of their new monarchy, their young king and queen celebrated their marriage in their own way, far from prying eyes and loose tongues. They might not wake until late the next day, but this was a night that would be well spent for them both. And who knew? Perhaps the seed had already been planted, the good omen so many hoped for from a wedding taking root before the moon reached its zenith. But, seed or not, it was a night to remember, and would be, for all the years to come.
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