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Yuletide Blessings

 
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Adelina
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:11 pm    Post subject: Yuletide Blessings Reply with quote

21st December, 1616

The north wind did blow, and Pasai had snow, and what could Elan do but wait, poor thing? Yet not so poor as all that, for the duchy of Elan was blessed in a strong duke and a playful duchess, and would be doubly blessed at this Yuletide, for the much-hoped-for child of their noble house was even now being born. Leandro had been banished from the upper floor of the house, left to wander while his wife labored under Mamita's watchful eye, and was, eventually, invited by the servants to join their Yuletide celebration as they drank to his health and the hope of a son.

Son or daughter, it mattered very little to Leandro, so long as the child was healthy, and his wife, the duchess, survived the birth and did not suffer too greatly. A birth should be cause for celebration, but until he knew the fate of his wife and child, he could not help but worry. His cup was literally overflowing with drink, as well-wishers made sure his cup never emptied, the drink helping relax him a little, despite his worries.

He, too, was under a watchful eye; his steward, Carlos, never far from his duke's side, was making sure that every other drink that entered his lord's hand was weaker than water. He did not think Leandro would be pleased to miss meeting his firstborn through too much carousing.

"Joyous Yule to you, your grace!" a voice called from nearby, and another took up the theme. "Blessings on you, lordship, and the ladyship who labors!"

As these voices were taken up, tankards and goblets rose into the air to toast the duke and his family, even as a young lad caught Carlos' arm to whisper feverishly into the man's ear.

So many times had Leandro heard this same toast taken up in his name and that of his duchess this day that he only raised his own glass in salute before downing the watered-down wine with a slight wince at the watered-down taste. "Carlos, have you been diluting the wine?" his lord asked, swaying just a little on his feet, as the boy whispered in his steward's ear. "If there is news of my wife and child, I would hear it," he told the boy with narrowed eyes.

"And you shall," Carlos assured his duke in amusement, knowing Leandro wouldn't be scowling at the child if he was sober. Sending the lad off, he moved to Leandro's side to share what he had been told. "Tis indeed a blessed Yule, your grace. You have a son."

"A son," Leandro echoed. By the look of the grin on his face, he looked proud and well pleased. "Another round for everyone!" he called, raising his glass in yet another toast. "I have a son!" he called, letting the servants gathered know the news before he'd even had a chance to share it with the nobles. "And my wife," he said, after he'd swallowed another gulp of wine. "Is she well?"

A roar of celebration went up all around him, congratulations and thanks to the Goddess mingled in the outpouring of joy at his news. By morning, the news would have traveled to the town below, and from there, it would be on the lips of every traveler and merchant sheltering there from the current storm, to be carried to the four corners of the land.

Carlos chuckled at his duke's exuberant display. "Indeed, she is very well, says Mamita," he assured the younger man. "Already washed and drunk of broth to recover her strength, and threatening to come looking for you soon if you do not go to her."

"I suppose I should not keep her waiting then," Leandro admitted, draining his wine before handing the glass to Carlos. He swayed just a little, a silly grin on his face before taking the man's shoulders and kissing him once on each cheek. "I have a son," he repeated, as if trying to make himself believe it.

Laughing at Leandro's cheery disposition, Carlos discreetly put a hand against the wall to keep them both upright as he was soundly kissed on each cheek. "You have a son," he confirmed for his lord. "And drunk enough to drown him ten times over this eve, if I'm any judge. If you think you can stay upright, go to her."

"I have never been drunk in my life," Leandro countered, pushing off the wall, as well, to steer himself in the right direction. "Be careful, or we will name him after you, mi amigo," he warned, waggling a finger at his steward before steadying himself with a hand against the wall. So, maybe he was a little drunk, but with any luck, Adelina wouldn't notice.

"The poor child does not deserve that," Carlos laughed, edging sideways to aim his duke toward the stairs, and up to his wife's birthing chamber. Behind them, the celebrations erupted with more vigor now their lord was not there to see them, and there was no doubt that the new lordling would be blessed a hundred times over before the celebration blew itself out. "If you do not hurry, Mamita will name him herself."

"Then I will rename him!" Leandro declared as he half-stumbled toward the stairs and started up them, doing his best to compose himself the closer he got to the birthing chamber. Fortunately, he was not so drunk that he'd stumble stupidly into that chamber without properly announcing his presence, even if he was the lord and master here.

Stumping along easily with his crutch in Leandro's mildly drunken wake, Carlos grinned to himself, looking forward to Mamita's reaction to the inebriated father. He didn't have to wait long - Mamita was waiting for them in the doorway to the ducal apartments, her hands on her hips as she raised a brow in her duke's direction.

She looked Leandro over pointedly. "You should have sobered up," she informed him in disapproval.

"Happy Yule to you, too, Mamita," Leandro replied, taking her face in his hands and planting a kiss on her lips. He tasted of wine, but he was not so inebriated that he was falling down drunk. "I would see my wife and son, if I may," he added, though he didn't really need to ask permission.

The housekeeper grimaced as he kissed her, waving him away with fond dismay. "If you drop him, I will take a switch to your backside in front of your little duchess," she informed her duke, reluctantly stepping aside. "In the duchess' bedchamber - she did not want to soil your bed with childbirth."

"I shall keep that in mind, mistress," he replied, sweeping her a courtly, if awkward bow, before turning and almost stumbling into the wall before his hand found the door. He knocked twice to announce his presence before pushing it open to take a peek inside. "Lady wife, may I come in? I am only a little bit drunk."

Despite her long day's labors, Adelina had made some effort with her appearance, her nightgown soft green, her robe rich red velvet to reflect the colors of the season in which she had finally given birth. She was sitting at the end of the bed, contrary to Mamita's instructions, her golden hair loose over her shoulders, looking down into the little cradle that bore their son. Looking up at the knock, she laughed at Leandro's request. "Who am I to deny you, querido?" she said, lifting a hand to beckon him closer. "Come and meet your son."
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Adelina
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Despite the day's celebration and the wine that had accompanied it, Leandro sobered almost immediately as soon as he was faced with that invitation. He crossed the room to where his lady wife sat and leaned close to first offer her a kiss. "Happy Yule, querida," he told her softly.

She smiled into his kiss, deeply contented to have finally done her duty and given him a son. The birth had been easy, as such things were for the women of her blood, and her recovery so soon afterward boded well for the births that would come. "Blessed Yule, mio tesoro," she murmured back to him, one hand rising to stroke her fingertips against his cheek. "You taste of wine."

He chuckled a little at her observance. "Because I've been drinking. I blame my steward. He would not let my glass remain empty all afternoon," he told her, taking her hand to kiss each of her fingertips before turning his attention to the small bundle in the cradle. "So, this is our son," he said, looking with pride and joy on that small wriggling bundle.

She laughed softly, giving him a gently tug to sit beside her on the fur that adorned the end of the bed. "Yes, this is our son," she agreed, reaching down to twitch the blanket back a little from the face that blinked, unseeing, up at the pair of them. "He has a fine voice and a strong grip, like his father."

Leandro looked down at the tiny bundle with a look of wonder on his face - a look that was so rarely seen there. "May-may I hold him?" the big man asked, a little timidly and fearful even.

Adelina's smile softened at the timidity he displayed, unused to seeing her husband in any humor that was not confident and calm. "You need not ask," she assured him softly, leaning down to lift the infant boy from his cradle as he wriggled in his swaddling clothes. "He is your son, Leandro. Your firstborn." Twisting, she laid the child in his father's arms, watching the elder's face for the love she knew he already felt for this dependent little life he now held.

He was awkward at best, unsure how to hold his son without dropping or breaking him. Remembering Mamita's warning only made him all the more nervous. He cradled his arms the way he'd seen others do it to accept his firstborn son and take his first look at him. "He is ... small," Leandro observed aloud, the first thought that came into his head.

"Were he any bigger, I would not have been able to bear him," Adelina pointed out in amusement, resting her cheek against his shoulder to look down at their son. "How do you like him, mio duca?"

He paused a moment to consider her question. It was not the same thing as asking how he liked a new horse or a new sword. This was nothing like those things. This was a person - a tiny person whom he and Adelina had made and who was dependent upon them for his very survival. "He is a fine son," Leandro replied, though he was unsure just how to determine such a thing. He was small and wrinkled and scrawny, but there was something about him that tugged at his heart. He saw some of Adelina in him and some of himself, though only time would tell who he most resembled and took after. He would not be disappointed if their son had more of his mother than his father in him. "What will we name him?" he asked, the question every parent had to contemplate and decide at a child's birth.

Stroking her fingertips over the lad's downy head, she considered this for a long moment. "I had thought to name him for his father," she admitted thoughtfully. "But now I see him, I would suggest a different name for our first boy. Luis, for the son Carlos and Mamita lost in the wars when this son was just beginning his growth in my womb."

Leandro arched a brow, surprised by her suggestion, but not unpleasantly so. A smile touched his lips, warm and soft and agreeable, his heart touched by her suggestion. Some men might have insisted their firstborn son by named for them, but Leandro was not like those men. He could not have cared for Carlos and Mamita more if they were his own kin, and their son Luis had been like a brother to him. "Luis, it is then. I would be happy to honor his memory by giving our son his name." He leaned close to touch a kiss to her cheek, almost as if he was grateful to her for the thought. "You are a very special woman, querida," he told her softly. Whether it was the wine talking or not didn't matter - the words came from his heart.

"The next will be Leandro, for his father," she promised softly, glad he agreed with her on the naming of this firstborn son, and certain there would be others to follow. His praise made her smile shy, almost blushing as she raised her eyes to his. "I am your woman, querido," she told him softly. "And just for that, I will be special. For you chose me, when you could have chosen anyone. And glad I am that I have not proven your faith wrong."

It was true, as far as he was concerned. There had been some others vying for a place at his side, but he had never met any other woman who was as kind or caring or beautiful as his Adelina. He would have kissed her again, if the bundle in his arms wasn't suddenly stirring a little, making himself known, his tiny face scrunched up in a look of displeasure, or perhaps he just wanted to remind them he was there. "Hush, little one ... Luis," Leandro whispered, rocking the boy in his arms gently to and fro, more out of instinct than any learned knowledge. "You are safe here with us, and you are loved."

The tiny boy wriggled, scrunching his nose for a moment before settling, lulled easily by the familiar timbre of his father's voice as he was rocked back and forth. Adelina's smile made itself known once again as she watched, glad to see Leandro taking so easily to being a father. "He loves you already," she murmured, laying her head on his shoulder once more.

"He knows my voice," Leandro corrected, assuming the baby had heard him speaking to him even before he was born and knew the sound of his father's voice. But love? He would learn love as he grew and understood how much his parents cared for him. Leandro smiled as Adelina rested her head against his shoulder, their son in his arms. "I promise I will do everything in my power to give you a long and happy life, Luis," he promised his son quietly, hoping he'd be able to keep that promise.

"And I, too," his duchess added her voice to that promise, curling the warmth of her palm to the baby's head as he was soothed back to sleep. "May the Goddess grant us all good life and long, to live together in such peace as She sees fit to send us."

Leandro did not need to add any further to that blessing, which said everything he was feeling in his heart and everything he wished for his wife and son. "And let us thank Her for all the blessings She has given us," he added, not wanting to take those blessings for granted. He lifted the tiny bundle to touch a fond and protective kiss to his forehead before very carefully setting him back in his cradle to rest.

Drawing back, Adelina was touched by his gentleness with the babe, though it should not have surprised her. Despite her tutelage in the marriage arts, as was the custom in her home, Leandro had never been anything but gentle with her. "It will not be long before we will be able to make a brother or sister for him, querido, and revel in the making of them together."
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Adelina
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Si, but first you must rest and heal," he told her, knowing at least that much. He was not so selfish or in such a hurry that he needed to rush things too much. She was young and there would be plenty of time for more sons in the years ahead. He smiled and leaned close once again, cupping her cheek gently before brushing his lips against hers, softly and tenderly.

"This, I know," she laughed, leaning into him as he kissed her. Though other wives might still be shy of their husband's affection, even after bearing a child, Adelina had never been shy of Leandro's touch, nor his kisses. She curled her arms about him, unashamed of the loose belly she currently wore. "I shall miss you in my bed, querido," she admitted quietly. "But 'tis a necessary thing. I would not wish upon you the bed I shall have for these next few weeks."

He arched a brow at that, even as he tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear and brushed his fingers against her cheek. "And why would I not share your bed? Do you not wish me close?" he asked, unsure what difference it would make now that they had a child. Certainly, the boy would wake and want his mother, but Leandro did not think he'd mind the interruption, and he was man enough to restrain himself from demanding her affection before she was healed.

"I am not clean yet from the birthing, and Mamita says I will not be for some few weeks yet," she told him reluctantly. "And since the child came earlier than we expected, I must nurse him until a suitable wet nurse be found." She tilted her head, lifting her chin to kiss his nose affectionately. "I will not abandon your bed forever, querido," she promised him. "Only until I am fit to lie beside you again."

"You will always be fit to lie beside me, Adelina," he insisted, though he had a feeling this was something sacred and known only to women and that, in all honesty, he probably didn't really want to know. "My bed will be cold without you," he said, rubbing his nose against hers. Quite literally, too, considering it was the dead of winter.

"It will not so be so long," she promised him, unwilling to explain exactly why she was squeamish of sleeping at his side for now. Mamita had explained to her the consequences of birth, but she hadn't realized how unwashed it would make her feel until she experienced it for herself. "I will not make you sleep alone any longer than is necessary, Leandro."

"If it is necessary, I will abide by your wishes," he assured her, even if he didn't like it much. He wasn't so ignorant or naive that he didn't have an idea what happened to a woman after childbirth, and he wasn't going to argue about it. It was the way things were, and he wasn't about to challenge it, even if he would miss her warmth and her softness by his side. "Nothing will change. I will see you and our son every day," he promised her, despite having to sleep in separate quarters for a short while.

"We will only be parted by a doorway," she reminded him, for that was all that stood between this bedchamber and the one they had shared until that morning. "And it will feel a short while until I return to your bed, I promise you that. Our son will thrive, knowing that his parents share love as well as him."

A short while compared to the rest of their lives, to be sure. "Si, querida. I know," he assured her, touching a kiss to her lips. So near and yet so far, but it was only for a few weeks, and he would be close enough if she needed him.

"And with a new son, you will not be expected to visit the court for the New Year," she added with impish mischief. "We will be able to celebrate the end of the season together with our own people for once." Not that she begrudged the King and Queen their need of Leandro; he was one of the dukes of the land, and was often required at court. But on the advent of his firstborn's birth, they had already stated they would keep from summoning him except at great need.

"You are not worried you might grow tired of me?" he asked, with the slightest hint of a smirk on his face, knowing she would deny it. As a matter of fact, she made no secret of missing him whenever he had to go away, for whatever reason.

She narrowed her eyes at him in amusement. "I feel I should not dignify such a silly question with an answer," she informed him, but her smile still broke through to paint her tired face with bright fondness. "But I could never grow tired of you, mio duca. Even if you were to be so drunk each night of our lives."

"I am not so drunk, carino," he assured her, the smirk on his face softening. "Perhaps I am only drunk on love," he teased further, touching a playful kiss to her nose.

"Rich with love and drunk on wine," she corrected him fondly, nuzzling close. "Strange, that my body is tired but my mind seems so wakeful. I do not think I will sleep so well until we find a wet nurse who can help me with our boy."

"All you need do is sleep and take care of our son," he told her, though it wasn't quite as simple as that. She had to eat, too, and take care of personal grooming, but she did not need to make any public appearances or entertain any guests at least until she was feeling up to it. "We will announce our son's birth on the morrow, and then you will rest. Well wishers and visitors can wait until you are feeling better and we have found you some help." He did not say how a wet nurse would be found; he'd leave that matter in Mamita's more than capable hands.

"Then I shall take pains not to disappoint our people on the morn, and spend the day in bed afterward," she laughed, but it wasn't such a foundless threat. She knew she would pay for her brevity tonight with aching limbs tomorrow.

"You could never disappoint anyone, querida," he assured her with a gentle smile and a touch of a kiss to her cheek. "You have made me a very happy man," he told her further, sliding his arms around her as gently as he could.

She preened happily, nestling into his arms without much restraint. It was this that Mamita opened the door to see, the older woman's face softening with a smile to see her duke so gentle with his duchess after her long day's labors. "Well now," she said, one hand on her hip, "will you tuck her into bed as well, or is that left to us lowly sorts?"

"I would be happy to tuck her into bed," Leandro replied with a grin, amused by Mamita's challenge. "And I promise to sleep in a separate room ... for now," he added, just for good measure, but in a connected room just in case she needed him.
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Adelina
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mamita only laughed, shaking her head at him. "Some things men should not know of," was all she would say about that, laughing again as Adelina blushed, fidgeting awkwardly in her seat. The older woman wasn't easily discomforted, especially not when she had a request for her duke and duchess. "With permission, I would like to go down to the town, to the refuge you created for the widows and orphans of the war. I believe there are two women there who might be suitable to nurse the boy."

"Of course," Leandro replied without hesitation. He did not think she really needed his permission, and he trusted her in all things, especially where Adelina was concerned. "Do whatever you feel is best."

"Serena," Adelina said suddenly, remembering the young widow who had lost her own child only a few days before, and was heartbroken to have lost the only reminder she would ever have of the husband who had gone to war and not come back. Mamita smiled, approving of the choice.

"Then Serena it shall be," she agreed. "I will have her brought to the castle tonight, and by morning, she will be ready for her duties, I am sure. Poor girl, she will be as family to us, since she has none now of her own."

"As you wish," Leandro told them both, though he had little say in the matter, nor did he want to make such a choice. There were women's matters and not for him to interfere in. He felt a pang of guilt about the young woman's situation, but perhaps they could at least give her a home, a purpose, and something resembling a family.

"As you say." Mamita nodded, pausing to smile down at the baby before slipping back to the door. She waggled her finger in Leandro's direction. "If you tire her, I will lock you out."

Adelina laughed, rolling her eyes at the threat. "If you lock him out, I will climb down the roses outside my window to be with him," she countered.

He chuckled at Mamita's threat, knowing she was only half serious. "Shall I tuck you in then, so you may sleep while our son sleeps?" he asked his wife, a soft smile on his face, prepared to do just that.

Adelina watched the door close, reluctant to admit that both Mamita and Leandro were right. She sighed sadly. "I think, perhaps, that is wise," she admitted with a pout. "I do not want to sleep, but I think I should. I am not so strong as I am pretending to myself that I am after such a long day."

"Would you mind very much if I stay for a while, to watch over you and our son?" he asked, reluctant to leave her just yet, though he had promised not to sleep with her until she was fully healed.

She smiled softly. "Of course I do not mind, querido," she assured him, stroking his cheek with a tender hand. "He is your son, and you should know him. And I can trust you not to laugh if I snore."

He laughed a little at her statement. "I have heard you snore before," he admitted with a grin. Of course, it was likely she could say the same for him. "Come, querida. You should get some rest before our son wakes and demands your attention," he said, reaching for her hand to help her back to bed.

She winced a little as he helped her to her feet, grateful he was there for her to lean on. "I did not realize how much my body would protest," she confessed laughingly. "I think, perhaps, I would like a year to recover before we do this again, tesoro."

"You can take as long as you like, 'Lina," he assured her, though it might prove difficult keeping to themselves for that long. There were other ways of making love though, that would not leave her pregnant, if she was amenable to them. He carefully helped her into bed and tucked the blankets around her before brushing a kiss against her brow, loving and protective. He drew one of her hands between his own and kissed that, too, a soft smile on his face. "Te amo, querida."

Laid down in the warmth of her blankets, it was no surprise to anyone but Adelina how swiftly her weariness took charge. She smiled through her yawn as Leandro tucked her in warmly and kiss her brow, holding onto his hand as he murmured to her. "Te amo, querido," she whispered back to him. "Luis will be so proud to be your son."

"As proud as I am to be his father," Leandro whispered back, rubbing her hand between his own for a moment longer. "And as proud as I am to call you wife," he added, with a soft smile, quieting so that she could rest in peace without interruption. He would keep his promise and stay, watching over both mother and son while they slept - the two people he loved and cherished most in all the world.

After two long years of hope and disappointments, through war and intrigue and the simple challenge of finding a common language, they had finally done what they had set out to do ... provide Elan with an heir. That they had found love while doing it was the Goddess' blessing, and a promise from one to the other that they would not be disappointed again. A Yuletide blessing, indeed.
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