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The Making Of A Queen

 
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Serafina
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:45 am    Post subject: The Making Of A Queen Reply with quote

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

8th March, 1617

It was generally agreed that Chancellor Schmaeda had pulled off a minor miracle. Four days after King George Frederick of Carantania announced that he had chosen his bride, the wedding itself was celebrated in the Temple of Carantan. No expense had been spared; from the entertainments to the musicians to the food, nothing had been left to chance. The royal seamstresses, who had been out of work for at least a year, had descended on Riftfell Castle en masse to outfit the soon to be queen with an entirely new wardrobe, keeping the young lady busy with fittings and decisions up until the very last minute. Her stepmother had been with her every step of the way, and despite their occasionally fractious relationship, Serafina knew she owed the woman a debt of gratitude for every decision she was helped through.

Though spring was only newly sprung, the streets of the capital were filled with people, traders' stalls laid out to make the most of the festival feeling as the newly-wedded King and Queen held court in what was usually the festival hall. Eight courses were served at the banquet for the nobility who attended; indeed, even some of the rejected princesses and ladies had accepted the invitation to attend, making the sense of occasion even more intimidating for the new queen. But there was no sign of that wariness right now.

With a candor that had almost offended the official conductor, Serafina had sought permission from her new husband to join the dancing in the square outside the festival hall, and even now, she was skipping merrily through the steps of a dance that most noble houses would consider beneath them, laughing with the common people each time she made a mistake. Her white gown shimmered as she moved, marking her out among the brightly colored clothing of the merchants' and farmers' daughters who danced with her. Even the stuffiest of the nobles had a smile on his face watching the exuberant display, and more than one had passed comment on how lucky the king was to have chosen such a merry bride.

On the steps overlooking the square, the king's throne had been set up to allow him to watch the merriment, and even to join in, if he so chose. Franz leaned on his mace next to his friend and monarch, an indulgent smile on his face. "If I may, sire," he ventured, "if you wish to use the causeway, it should be soon. Otherwise you will be here another hour while we bring the royal barge around to the dock."

Frederick, too, seemed to be enjoying himself, though he had not yet joined in the dancing or revelry, content to watch his new bride win the people's hearts with her youthful exuberance - and perhaps a few noblemen's hearts, as well. He was in no hurry to rush her away, and yet, the bridal bed awaited them at the eventual end of the evening, with all that entailed. If truth be told, Frederick was a little nervous where that was concerned. Though he was experienced enough in that regard, it had been some time since he'd been with a woman, and he knew he had to be gentle. "An hour is not so much longer to wait, is it, Franz?" he asked, reluctant to put an end to his bride's enjoyment of the festivities. He almost wished he was dancing with her, but it didn't seem quite proper. "Lovely, isn't she?" he asked, a smile full of pride and joy lighting his face.

"Indeed, Your Majesty, utterly charming," Franz agreed with him. He'd had the opportunity to get to know the young lady a little in the past few days, glad to find that she had a brain between her ears. He was still ever so slightly smug about inviting her to the fete in the first place, however. "With your leave, sire, I will make arrangements for the barge to be made ready." He bowed, backing up a few steps to do just that as the rousing music abruptly came to a halt, the dancers breathless and laughing. There was a ripple of bowing and curtsying as Serafina left their midst, moving to sit herself down beside her husband, her smile bright and breathless.

The king actually clapped his hands a little as she made her way toward him, having enjoyed watching her almost as much as she seemed to have enjoyed dancing. Wife and queen were words he was still getting used to where she was concerned. "You seem to be enjoying yourself," he remarked, standing to offer her a hand to guide her to the seat beside him.

Heedless of the dust that coated the hem of her gown, Serafina took his hand as he guided her to her place at his side. "I haven't been allowed to dance these dances since I was a child," she admitted laughingly, gratefully accepting a cup of wine that was offered to her. "Not even my father could find a reason for his daughter to know how to dance like a commoner. Will you not join us?"

"I am not so young as I once was, and I fear I might make a fool of myself," he replied with an apologetic smile. While he might have enjoyed dancing with her in private, he was not so sure he wanted to do so with so many there to witness. If she wanted him to dance, she was going to have to convince him. "Franz is arranging for us to travel back to the castle by barge," he told her, adding, "when you are ready."

"Then waltz with me," she pleaded softly, setting her cup down to twist in her seat, capturing his hands between her own as she looked him in the eye. "These people are very fond of you. You should give them something to smile about for your wedding day - something more than how much you've indulged me and my silly ways." She laughed softly. "I will refuse to go back to the castle until you dance with me."

"Waltz," he echoed, eyeing her steadily, as if to warn her that she should not try and trick him into any of the more lively dances that were taking place around them. "I was not aware you were so well schooled in blackmail," he added, with an amused gleam in his eyes.

Her smile was utterly without shame as he eyed her. "I was the only child of a widower for ten years, sire," she reminded him in amusement. "It would reflect poorly upon me if I had not learned how to manipulate him into indulging my whims, would it not?" She giggled, utterly unaware of the way the nobility and commons were watching their king and new queen's every move.

"It would reflect poorly on us both if I fall flat on my face in front of my subjects," he countered, leaning close, that amused smile still on his face. He was vaguely aware of the eyes that were watching them, but he was so accustomed to such things that he hardly noticed. His gloveless hand covered hers, glad he could touch her now without worrying about protocol.

"I would not let you fall," she promised him, leaning close in an unconscious mirror of his own stance. "Besides, I already know you can waltz. We've done it before." Admittedly, it had been a somewhat nerve-wracking affair, that first dance they had shared, but he couldn't pretend he didn't know what he was doing there. If he could guide her around a dance floor with only one hand, he could certainly repeat the feat here and now.

"You wish to repeat our first dance?" he asked - not only their first dance, but their one and only dance. The music would have to change, but all he had to do was ask, and the musicians would play whatever he asked. He sighed, knowing there would be no pleasing her if he did not at least dance with her once. He moved to his feet, offering her a hand to pull her up beside him. "A waltz!" he called to the musicians, as he led her from the makeshift dais. The nobles and commoners alike parted, to allow their king and queen to move among them, clearing them a small space so that they could waltz without fearing of colliding with any of their subjects.

Her smile alive with delight at how easily he had given in to her pleading, Serafina was only too happy to be lead back down the steps and into the center of the square. This was one dance that nobles and commons could both perform. She hoped they would dance with them, but it did not truly matter if they did not. She had her dance with her husband, and this time, there was no taboo against the hand she placed in his, or the gentle rest of her palm against his shoulder.

"I pray I do not disappoint," he whispered as he set one hand against her waist, while taking her hand with the other. He was not only talking about dancing now, but about what awaited them later that evening, and perhaps even in the days ahead. King or not, he did not want to disappoint her in any way, now or in the days to come. There was a certain excitement in being able to touch her like this, closer together than they had ever been thus far, and he found his heart pounding like a schoolboy.
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Serafina
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I feel sure that you could not disappoint," she assured him, unable to deny the flush on her cheeks even if she had been inclined to. Though there had been opportunity a-plenty for them to grow more accustomed to one another in the past few days, he had never held her. To experience it with so many eyes on them was a little startling, to say the least, and she was glad he was confident of the steps. From the corner of her eye, she saw the mayor, made brave with drink, bow to Princess Amelie of Cicilia, asking her to dance, and to Serafina's surprise, the princess accepted, moving out onto the floor with a commoner who looked as though he might faint just from that honor.

For a man who had been content enough to sit and watch while his new bride danced and mingled with nobles and commoners alike, Frederick was certainly sure enough of himself when it was at last his turn to share a dance with her. "Oh, I am quite sure I could, but I hope I do not, where you are concerned," he replied with a slightly amused smile. He noticed the flush that had crept into her cheeks, but was not sure if it was their closeness, the eyes that were watching them, or the excitement that was causing it.

It was likely all three at once causing her cheeks to color, but only one of those three was immediate - namely, the press of his hand to her back, holding her closer to him than any man ever had, save her own father. They certainly made for a pretty picture, commanding the square as they circled it together amidst the brave couples who dared to share the waltz with the king and queen. "Perhaps Your Majesty could explain to me in detail just how he believes he could disappoint me, so I know when it happens?" Serafina heard herself tease him, emboldened by the smile on his face. "I should hate to cause disappointment of my own by not reacting in the expected manner."

"Well, I am not as young as I once was," he pointed out. Old enough to be her father, if truth be told, but she didn't seem to mind much. "And I have not ... had much experience with women," he admitted reluctantly, dropping his voice so that there was no fear of anyone overhearing him. Yes, he'd been with other women, but not as much as one might think.

This was one occasion when even Serafina's father would have preferred her not to say the first thing that came into her head. However, he was not there to stop her, and so Frederick was treated to his virginal young bride looking him dead in the eye and saying, with absolute innocence and sincerity, "Neither have I."

He took her statement literally, whether she'd meant it that way or not, that look of amusement returning to his face again. "Well, I should hope not," he teased, assuming she'd had no lovers before him, either of the male or female persuasion.

It took a moment, but she realized how that sounded sooner rather than later, saved from an embarrassed stumble only by the hands that held her close. "Oh goodness ..." Blushing, she laughed, shaking her head at him. "You know what I mean, sire," she told him, glancing away as though trying to save her blushes. But, of course, now her mind turned to it, she couldn't help but imagine what it would be like in just a few hours, when they were alone together. "You-you do not mind it so much, do you?" she asked worriedly. "That I ... well, that I know only so much as my stepmother could bring herself to tell me?"

"Of course not," he reassured her gently. After all, most men wanted a virgin bride, especially in one who was also going to be queen. It wasn't only that it was more desirable that she come to him unspoiled, but that she came to him without any former entanglements. "I will be as gentle as I can," he assured her further. If the way he held her was any indication of what she could expect, she had little need to worry.

The eyes that returned to him were a little wider, the blue a little darker, than the eyes that had looked away, lingering for a long moment on the lips that still had not kissed hers before rising to meet his gaze. "I-I must confess, I have ... I have not felt this way before," she admitted softly, wetting her lips as she swallowed. "I fear it is terribly wanton and not very fitting for a wife."

"What way?" he asked, though he could guess at her meaning. He was feeling it, too, but it wasn't just desire he was feeling. As king, he could have had any woman he wanted - he could have mistresses as well as a wife - but it was Serafina who had captured his heart.

Color bloomed on her cheeks once again, knowing she had talked herself into this situation. "I ... I don't believe it would be appropriate for me to describe it, sire," she whispered to him. "Not before your subjects, at any rate."

"I can assure you whatever you are feeling is perfectly normal," he told her, assuming what she was feeling was in sync with his own feelings. If what she was feeling was disgust, they were going to have a problem, but he did not think so.

She laughed softly at that. "You are very kind, but ... I am not a normal lady," she reminded him. "Most normal ladies don't back kings into proposing to them just because they don't want to be made to wait a whole night before giving their answer." Her bright smile had returned, just in time. The music was slowing, signifying the end of the dance as the couples around them twirled toward a finish.

"Perhaps I don't want a normal lady," he countered in response to her argument. He didn't bother to point out that he hadn't minded her pressuring him into proposing early either. As the music slowed, he leaned in, his voice very close to her ear and whispered, "Perhaps all I want is you."

Her soft gasp was his alone to enjoy, as was the gentle tremble in her hands at his whisper. Not so much at the words, though they were rousing in a way she had never experienced before; more the sensation of his breath, warm against her skin, the way she leaned into him instinctively, wanting to feel his strength helping to keep her on her feet. And it was that instinct, that unsettling thrill, that urged her own response, whispered back to him in the last swirl of skirts. "I want to be yours."

He only smiled softly in return, gray eyes bright with affection. This was not the time or place to whisper sweet nothings, where others could overhear, but he was not afraid to let others see the affection which he had for her in the way he looked at her, the way he danced with her, the way he whispered in her ear. On a whim, he moved his head a fraction, just so he could brush the softest of kisses against her cheek, just a tiny hint at what he, too, was feeling.

Perhaps it was a shame that he couldn't see what that tiniest of kisses did to her, unable to track the electrifying feeling that crackled over her skin from the point where his mouth touched her cheek. All the watchers saw was an affectionate moment that left their new queen blushing and failing to stifle her smile as she stepped back to curtsy to the king. They couldn't possibly know for certain that impatience was beginning to play its part in how the newly-weds were enjoying the festivities.

Thankfully, though, Franz had promised to arrange for the royal barge to be brought around within the hour so that the king and his queen could retire to the castle to finish the wedding celebration in private. Until then, there were still a few nobles and commoners alike who wanted to with their king and queen good wishes. Not everyone was happy about the wedding, though none dared to say so, nor would they in front of their king, and when it was at last time for them to leave, both nobles and commoners joined in wishing them farewell.

Wrapped in white fur to keep her warm on the short journey from the shore to the castle by boat, Serafina embraced her stepmother warmly, whispering her thanks before she set foot aboard the royal barge, clinging to Frederick's hand to keep from falling with the unaccustomed motion of the vessel. The dock was lined with people to see them off, most wishing them well and good fortune, with a few slightly cruder good intentions speckled among the calls as the barge drew away from the town.
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Serafina
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With one arm around her waist and the other taking her hand, Frederick led her onto the barge, which would take them across the causeway, back to the castle that was home. Though it hardly showed, he felt as nervous as a schoolboy with his first infatuation, knowing what awaited them later that night. Once on board, he remained protectively close, waving to those who bid them farewell before turning to face the castle that was their destination and their future.

Thankfully, this particular sea voyage was a relatively short one. It was barely half an hour before they were stepping from the barge onto the royal dock, ushered inside out of the cold by the ladies of the bedchamber and his own valet, separated to be prepared for the evening ahead of them.

So nervous she thought she might be sick, Serafina endured the chattering of the women who had won the right to see to her until her own choices could be made, letting them fuss over her for as long as they considered it necessary. When they were done, she had nothing left to hide behind. The make up was gone, the jewels were gone, the beautiful gown that had been her shield was gone. All that remained was, in her opinion, a little girl in a nightgown too big for her, her black hair braided too tightly for comfort and left to hang over her shoulder as she was lead through the private chambers to the last door separating her from her husband. The knock that was placed on that door sounded too loud in her ears, her fingers fidgeting in and out of the voluminous folds of the nightgown.

Thankfully, Frederick had already banished the valet from his bedchambers in anticipation of the arrival of his new bride. It had taken him far less time to prepare, and he had passed the time by pacing the floor nervously as he waited for her to arrive, a dozen thoughts and worries tumbling through his mind. Would she find him attractive? Desirable, even? Would she be able to overcome her shyness enough to enjoy herself? Would he be able to please her? Would they live as husband and wife, or only as king and queen, in the days to come? So many questions and no answers. More than anything, he didn't want to repeat the mistakes of the past, but make her as happy as she deserved to be. When he opened the door to draw her inside, he found his heart racing with nervous excitement.

The ladies who delivered her to him sank in deep curtsies as the door opened and, unseen by the king, one placed a gentle hand on Serafina's back, giving her a soft push over the threshold and into the king's private bedchamber. She jumped when the door closed behind her, shy and nervous, and perhaps even a little frightened of what was to come. After all, women were not encouraged to enjoy doing their duty, and her stepmother had done her best to make sure she knew not to expect much from the marriage bed. "I would curtsy, sire, but ... I don't think I can and stay upright."

He reached for her hand to draw her inside, slowly and gently despite the soft push. He seemed regal, even stripped down to just his shirt and breeches, but it wasn't so much what he wore as how he carried himself. He had been raised to be a king, after all, but it was not a king who stood before her now, but a husband, eager to please and to love. "No need. You are my wife now, Serafina, and my queen." There was no need for the sire, either, but one thing at a time.

She drew in a slow, shaking breath, letting her fingers tangle with his as she looked up at him. Here, in his own chambers, away from the pomp and circumstance and the ever-watchful eyes, he seemed softer somehow, as though the sharp edges of being a king were somehow sloughed off with the accoutrements he had shed as he waited for her. It was ... encouraging. Encouraging enough that she felt some of her nervousness ease away into a shy smile.

"F-frederick." She hesitated, biting her lip, before daring to take a little initiative. Her hands rose, laying tentative fingers to his jaw as she lifted herself on her toes, touching a trembling kiss to his lips.

He smiled encouragement as she stuttered his name, but it was the tentative, trembling kiss that surprised him, not unpleasantly so. This was the first time tasting her lips, sweet and soft and tender. He did not press her further or try to force himself on her, but kissed her in return, touching her cheek with gentle fingertips as their lips met again.

A tiny sound escaped her, caught in her throat as he touched his kiss to her lips in answer, subtle and sweet and aching with the longing she had not yet been able to voice. As they parted, it seemed to take an age for her eyes to open, her hands held awkwardly between them, hesitant to touch despite it being her right now to do so. "Did I ... was that ... right?"

He smiled again as their lips parted, charmed by her innocence and desire to please. "Yes, that was right," he reassured her, though the kiss had been more gentle and tender than passionate. While there were no wrong ways to kiss really, there were some who were better at it than others. "May I?" he asked, reaching around behind her for the braid of hair.

For a moment, panic flared in her eyes, not certain what it was he was asking permission for. "May you ... oh." The panic faded as his fingers brushed the tight braid, a shy smile lighting up her face as she laughed softly, glancing down. Letting her hands fall to her sides, she nodded. "Whatever you wish."

"Would you mind very much if I undid it?" he asked, wanting to see her with her hair down. The braid was practical enough for sleeping so her hair wouldn't turn into a tangled mess overnight, but this was their wedding night, and he had a strange desire to let her hair loose to spill over her back and shoulders.

"No, I ... I don't mind." She drew in another soft breath, turning to give him access to the thick braid that hung between her shoulders, letting her eyes roam the room. There was a moment of shock when she found herself looking at her own reflection, hastily avoiding her mirror-self's eyes as her fingers fidgeted in and out of her chemise once again. "You may be the only man who ever will see my hair unbound."

Except perhaps for her father, but he was deceased. "It is a husband's privilege, don't you think?" he asked, as he moved around behind her to carefully unwind and loosen her hair from the braid with gentle but deft fingers. It was, in fact, the first time he'd ever dared do so with a woman, though he didn't seem to be having any problem with it. "I suppose it is silly, but I have wanted to touch your hair from the first moment we met."

She couldn't help giggling a little, daring to meet his gaze in the reflection before her as he gently unwound her hair from its confines. "There is certainly enough of it," she pointed out in amusement, and indeed, she was absolutely right in that assessment. When her hair was finally loose, it hung to below her rear in soft waves, shimmering darkly in the candlelight.

He couldn't help but touch the lustrous waves, gently combing it out with his fingers. At least, this was something he could do without making her too nervous or frightened. "Perhaps I could brush it later," he suggested, though that wasn't quite what he wanted to do at the moment. Instead, he turned her to face him and smiled as he admired the view. "You really are quite lovely, Serafina."

"I would like that," she answered his suggestion with a smile, wondering what it would be like to have her hair brushed by a man. He couldn't possibly be any rougher than her maid in Kediri had been. Turned about to face him, she felt her cheeks flush under his admiring regard. "Any woman you chose would be lovely, your - Frederick," she said softly, stumbling over his name once again. "I am sure I am only lovely because I ... because you want me to be."

"But I have not chosen any woman, Serafina. I have chosen you," he pointed out, and it was in good part because of the way she looked. Her resemblance to her mother was what had initially drawn his attention, but it was not solely her beauty that had captured his heart. "Does it bother you to say you are lovely?" he asked, as he reached for her hand and stroked it tenderly between his own.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Her smile faded just a little at his question, uncertain how she should answer. This didn't seem the time for grief, and yet, she had never lied to him. Her fingers curled about his as he took her hand, the other rising to wrap over his knuckle as she looked at their joined hands. "I learned very young never to think of my looks," she confessed softly. "My face made my father sad, and my stepmother resented it. Something that gives people such grief couldn't possibly be lovely."

"Perhaps it only gives them grief because it reminds them of someone they've lost, but that same face also brings them joy for the very same reason. Your father loved you, yes?" he asked, studying her carefully as she studied their joined hands.

"I believe he did," she nodded, lifting her eyes to meet his gaze even as he studied her. "He never spoiled me, but I never wanted for anything. He indulged my blunt tongue and my thoughtless words, and my inappropriate behavior for far too long, some thought. But if he had not, then I do not believe I would be here. Without the courage he taught me, the boldness he never punished, I would never have come to Carantania, much less browbeaten the king into marrying me." And there was her smile again, bright and touched with mischief as she squeezed his hand between her own.

His smile widened, chuckling a little at her claim. "You hardly browbeat me, Serafina. Would it surprise you to know that I was as nervous as you were that first dance?" he asked, as he let go of her hand so that he could push her hair back from her face, just for an excuse to touch her. And now that they were wed, he was nervous all over again for a very different reason.

"A little," she confessed in amusement. "You had, after all, danced with seventeen other ladies before you got to me. You must have been heartily sick of dancing by that point in the evening." She caught her breath as he stroked her hair back from her face, denied the opportunity to hide behind the raven-black fall as she looked up at him. "Though I do not believe anyone could possibly be more nervous than I am at this moment."

"No need to be nervous," he assured her kindly. "We can go as slowly as you wish." After all, now that they were married, they presumably had all the time they wanted or needed to get better acquainted with each other, both as lovers and companions. "Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?" he asked, fingers in gentle caress of her cheek.

"They will expect ... that is, the sheets ..." She blushed darkly, ashamed of herself for not being able to put into words what they both knew. What she wanted. As his fingers brushed her cheek, she let her gaze find his once more, her hands rising to hover between them, wanting to touch and uncertain how or where to begin. "You make me feel beautiful," she breathed softly. "No one has ever looked at me the way you do."

What would she do or say if she knew his initial attraction to her was because of her resemblance to her mother? And yet, that no longer seemed to matter. While that might have been his initial attraction, it was Serafina - not her mother - who had stolen his heart and who he had married. "They ... I do not care what they expect. I only care for you," he assured her, his voice as gentle as before.

She gasped - a soft sound that seemed ripped from her throat as her eyes widened in shocked amazement. In that moment, her hands landed, pressed one to his chest and the other curling over his hip, needing to hold onto him, to know he was real even as she stuttered out her reply. "You-you care for me?"

"Yes, I suppose I do," he admitted, never having thought about it too hard before or having had a chance to admit it. "Would it surprise you to know that I think I could love you?" he asked further, taking her hand from his chest and holding it between both his own.

That was enough to draw her brows together in a faint frown; not a rejection of what he offered, but confusion. "I-I must confess, I do not understand," she admitted quietly. "I do not think anyone has ever loved me who did not have to. I meant what I said to you at that first dinner we shared - I like you, very much, and I believe that learning to love you will be a privilege. I know it isn't romantic, it isn't the declaration I should give you, but I won't lie. I'm very fond of you, Frederick. I-I-I want you with me in ways I can't put words to. I simply ... I do not understand why you chose me, or why you would care for me, when there are so many others better suited to you."

"And I told you that first night that if I wanted a princess, I would have had one. I did not want a simpering, spoiled princess for a wife. I wanted you, and that is all that is important," he told her, unwilling to share the bit about her mother, when he knew she would only misunderstand. "I care for you, Serafina, like I have never cared for anyone before." That much was true - whatever it was he had felt for her mother paled in comparison to what he felt for her.

She smiled, almost embarrassed to have forced those words from him, looking down to where her hand was caught between his own. "My father once told me that if I were lucky enough to wed a man who cared for me, that he would not give me a moment to feel fear or shame in the marriage bed," she whispered, wondering why that thought had come to her now, of all times. "That I should be brave if I cared for him in return, and there would be no need for nerves or shyness. Was ... was he right?"

He smiled, wishing he'd met her father. He thought he might have liked the man, but there had been too much distance between them for that to ever happen, in more ways than one. "I hope he was right. I will do my best to make you happy, Serafina. I can promise you that," he replied, tugging her gently toward the marriage bed.

"Is that a promise to make me happy every hour of every day, or to make me happy a little bit every day?" she asked impishly, taking shelter in a little humor as he drew her with him across the room. "After all, I am a woman. I should know exactly what you're promising so I can make you suffer if you ever break it."

"That is a promise to make you happy as much as I can, but I am only human," he told her with that hint of amusement on his face again. "I should think it would be nearly impossible to make someone happy every hour of every day, don't you?" He came to a halt as they reached the side of the bed. "Would you like me to snuff out the candles?" he asked, though the fire in the hearth would still throw a little light into the room.

"Oh, I could do that," she rushed to assure him, already turning to begin. She made it three steps away before realizing what she had done - taken the first opportunity to be away from him since she had entered this room. That wouldn't sit well. Be brave, little lioness. Her lips quirked into a smile at the remembered sound of her father's voice. She could be brave, especially for Frederick. She spun back, hands reaching for him, lips brushing his with smiling assurance. "I'm not running away."

"I know," he replied, his arms going around her waist for perhaps the first time. This was a far more intimate embrace than the one they'd shared while dancing, though he did not pull her so close that she was crushed against his chest. He only pulled her a little closer, leaning in to touch another kiss to her lips, slightly more insistent than the last one.

Yet even that little closer was enough to draw a gasp from her lips, so acutely aware of his hands against her, separated from her skin by only the soft folds of a single chemise. A gasp that parted her lips, and offered him a kiss that was deeper than any she might ever have even considered, had instinct not played its part. Her fingers clenched in his shirt as she tasted him on her tongue, her eyes falling closed to savor every last flash of shocking sensation.

He had no idea what she was feeling, but if her reaction to his kiss was any clue, it seemed he was having the desired effect. In his mind, the first thing he needed to do was make her feel desirable, wanted, loved; then, he needed to help her relax; and finally, encourage her to give in to whatever her body was telling her. Instinct was her friend and wouldn't let her down, if only she could relax enough to listen to it. There would be pain, of course. There always was the first time, but there were ways to minimize it so that her first time was as enjoyable as it could be. "Just relax, Sera," he urged her quietly, as he eased her closer to the bed.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a fleeting moment, she remembered the candles she had not snuffed, before gentle movement swept her along, letting him guide her ever closer to the bed that awaited them. Would she had been so compliant, so eager to be lead, with any other? She didn't think so. There was a wildness in this, no matter how gentle his hands were on her person. A wildness she did not think she could trust to anyone but this man, the man who had chosen her, the man she had chosen for herself. His quiet urging made her giggle, feeling the rough tease of his hair between her fingers. When had she taken hold of his hair? "Easy for you to say," she murmured back to him.

He chuckled at her murmured teasing, encouraged by her giggle. At least, she did not seem to be afraid of him. He was glad of that. "You forget that I have not been with a woman in some ... while," he reminded her, though making love was a skill that could never really be unlearned. Still, each woman was different, with her own territory to explore and learn.

"Does it stop working if you don't use it regularly?" The question was blurted out without any thought behind it at all, a sure sign that he had managed to circumvent the drilled manners she executed so seamlessly even when being blunt and bold. "A very silly boy told me that once," she explained herself. "He seemed quite put out when I suggested he should find someone less picky to make sure all his bits kept working."

He chuckled at the thought of that. Perhaps it stopped working when one was very old, but he had not had any problems in that regard. "I suppose we'll find out," he teased back, eyes sparkling with amusement, though he already knew the answer to that question. Everything still worked, as far as he could tell.

"You mean you don't know?" Serafina looked utterly shocked by that, missing the tease in his gaze as her own eyes dropped from his to glance between them. She at least knew where she was supposed to be looking, it seemed, and she realized his tease the moment she registered where her eyes had strayed. Her head snapped up, a fiercely laughing glare pointed straight at him. "You know, I think I do know how to check for you," she offered, her brows high despite the tremble in her voice. "I saw it done once. I don't think she was doing it very well - he made a lot of noise."

He couldn't help but smirk as she glanced between them to the very obvious fact - even beneath his breeches - that his equipment, as it were, was operating perfectly well. "If he was making a lot of noise, then she was doing it right," he countered, leaning in to press his lips against the side of her neck. He slid the chemise down off one shoulder, his lips trailing soft kisses along her neck and down her bare shoulder.

"Was sh- ohhh ..." Her breath ghosted against his ear as his lips began to seduce her, barely aware of the loosening of her neckline until she felt his mouth against her shoulder. She bit down on her own lip, her fingers tightening in his hair as she squeezed her eyes closed, breathing his name back to him with a strange sense of agitation. "Sh-should I ..." She couldn't get the words to leave her lips with any clarity, daring to let one hand slither down his chest to brush her knuckles against the obvious fact of his manhood.

His kisses paused for just a moment when he felt her touch him, his pulse quickening, but he only hesitated for a moment before he was kissing her again. And then he was working the laces of her chemise loose so that he could explore further, unwrapping her like a treasured gift.

The drawn neckline of her chemise gave up the ghost barely moments after he turned his attention to the lacings, losing all resistance under his impatience. Serafina gasped as the loose fabric slid down over both her shoulders, catching at her elbows as she tried to cover herself. Her blush spread well beyond her cheeks, tinting the slender fullness he had uncovered with rose even as she tried to hide herself with all the aplomb of the untouched maiden she was.

"It's all right, Serafina," he assured her, forcing his eyes to meet and focus on hers, rather than wander as he wanted them to. "Let me see you," he urged, as gently as he could. "Don't be afraid." He touched her arms to pull them away from her body, ever so gently, if she would let him, allowing himself to admire the youthful beauty before him.

She was shaking, truly ashamed of herself as she let him slide her arms away, feeling the barrier of her chemise slither down not only from her arms but all the way to the floor, revealing the slender form that belonged to him. Her hands twitched, wanting to cover herself, embarrassed by his regard. The shake of her head as she tore her gaze from his face was enough to bring her hair falling forward, a dark curtain to shield at least some of her shy body from his eyes. But not enough to hide the slender lines, the unblemished skin, the inviting fullness, all cream with the blush of rosebuds for his enjoyment.

He had been with plenty of women before, but none as truly beautiful and pure as this. It seemed almost a shame to ruin that purity, and yet, they were husband and wife now, and he wanted to teach her what that truly meant. "There is nothing to be ashamed of, love," he assured her, remembering what her father had told her. "You are beautiful beyond words, and I promise to be gentle."

She raised her head, but her eyes remained stubbornly closed, as though by blinding herself she could forget that she was standing naked before a man who made butterflies catch fire inside her with just a look. "I feel so exposed," she whispered, catching her lip between her teeth once again.

"Lie back," he told her, easing her back onto the bed and reaching to pull a blanket up over her, which covered her body, and yet, still allowed him to explore. "Try to relax," he instructed further, "and tell me if you'd like me to stop." It would be difficult to stop once they got started, but he was the master of his own body, and he would do what was best for her, even if it wasn't what he wanted.

She squeaked a little when she felt his hands on her, stumbling to the bed under his guidance. If she had felt exposed before, she felt even more so as she lay back, aware of the cool sheets beneath her. And yet, he covered her over. Had he seen all he wanted to see? Was she ... deformed in some way? Opening her eyes, she raised herself up onto her elbow, once more daring to reach out to him. "A-aren't you wearing a little much for this?"

The tiniest of smiles quirked his lips at her question. Though he wasn't particularly shy about undressing, it had been some while since he'd been with a woman, and she was not just any woman. "I suppose I am," he replied, calmly and coolly, though he felt anything but, which would become apparent once he had disrobed. "But first ..." he said, turning his back to move about the room and extinguish each and every candle, leaving the king's bedchambers lit only by the flames flickering in the hearth.

By the time he turned his attention back to her, she was sitting up in the middle of the bed, the blanket held to her chest modestly as she watched him extinguish all lights but that which came from the fire in the hearth. Her shaking seemed to have abated, the rough rush of shy nerves easing as she grew accustomed to where she was, and how she was. "I was going to do that," she pouted, put out by how easy he had found it to distract her from the task she had volunteered for.

"No matter. I thought you might find it easier in the dark," he told her, though why, he wasn't quite sure. Part of it was about creating the right mood, and part of it was about her obvious shyness, which was to be expected, after all. Turning to face her, he tugged his shirt off over his head and tossed it aside to land on a chair. It was hard to get a good look at him, now that they had only the fireplace to see by, but the silhouette he projected as he came closer was that of a solid man with strong shoulders and arms, but not overly muscled, like a knight might be. Still, he was tall and solid and in good shape for a man in his middle years.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even in the flickering darkness, Serafina could see him clearly, glad that her blush was not so very obvious in the gloom. She had seen men's bare chests before, of course; the gardeners in Tulosa had worked shirtless in the summer months. But this ... this was different. This was her husband. And good Goddess, but he was beautiful. Corded and defined, strong. She felt herself lick her lips, unable to banish the urge to crawl closer and taste his skin, though she did not give into it. "It may be exceedingly obvious, sweetheart, but I really don't know what happens next."

Though she might not be able to see it, he arched a brow in the darkness, surprised at the term of endearment, given so early in their marriage and even acquaintance. Could it be that he was winning her heart, as she was winning his? To be loved again was more than he could have ever hoped for, and by a woman who would not reject and turn her back on him, as her mother had. "What would you like to happen next?" he asked her, both of them knowing what lay ahead, but reluctant, it seemed, to name it.

Little did he know, the endearment came more easily to her lips than his name did. How could she ever explain that one to him? And that question ... why did he keep asking her what she wanted? Was she supposed to know, and even if she did know, how was she supposed to put it into words? She glanced down at the soft blanket covering her, drawing in a slow breath to fortify herself. "I-I would like not to be alone in this bed," she offered hesitantly, raising her eyes to find him once again, embarrassed by the way her gaze strayed over his skin before meeting his eyes. Something in his gaze made her bold, if only for a moment. "I want to touch you," she whispered, as though afraid he would deny her.

That smile on his lips widened and warmed. Well, that was a start. Most men, kings among them, might have taken what they wanted and been finished by now, but he was not most men and he was in no hurry. "And I want to touch you," he confessed, letting her know that he did, indeed, desire her. "Have you ever seen a man undressed?" he asked, further as he stepped a little closer.

"Not ... not close to," she confessed, shaking her head as she looked away. But there was a smile on her lips, even with her eyes closed. "I did see a man naked from the waist down once, but my governess was kneeling in front of him, so I doubt I saw everything I should have."

"Kneeling ..." he echoed, trailing off before he broke into laughter. Actual laughter, not just a mere chuckle. "I see," he said, wiping at a few tears that had gathered due to his laughter. It was fairly obvious to him what her governess had been up to at the time, but he was not so sure his innocent wife understood it. "I shall try not to shock you too much then," he said, still chuckling a little at the thought of her catching her governess in the act of, well, it sort of went without saying.

His laughter was infectious, brightening her smile as she looked back at him, infinitely pleased with herself for making him laugh like he truly meant it. Admittedly, she was naked in his bed, and laughter wasn't something she'd been told happened on a wedding night, but it wasn't a bad thing, surely? "I notice that I am still alone in this bed, sweetheart," she pointed out, tilting her head as she looked at him.

"So you are, sweetheart," he replied, a hint of amusement in his voice, unsure if she was teasing him with that term of endearment or if she meant it. He paused a moment, turning serious, before waving a hand at her. "Close your eyes."

Her fingertips touched her mouth, surprised by the unexpected command. "If you leave while my eyes are closed, I will cry," she warned him through her smile, sure he wouldn't do that, at least. Glancing down, she braced the blanket against her chest with her elbows, covering her eyes with her hands. "Is his Majesty happy with my compliance, or should I put my head under the blanket, too?"

"No peeking!" he warned, more for her own comfort than for his. She'd find out what a naked man looked like soon enough, but there was no need to shock her and embarrass them both just yet. Watching her as closely as he could in the dim light, he peeled off his breeches as quickly as he could without falling over and tossed them to join his shirt on the chair. Once that was done, he moved closer, waving a hand in front of her face to make sure she wasn't peeking before climbing under the blanket with her. "You can open them now."

"You are not a child," she laughed at his admonishment against stealing a look, keeping her hands firmly over her eyes even as her ears strained to hear what he was doing. She heard the pop of a button, the rustle of cloth, the double thump of feet hitting the floor a little harder than was entirely comfortable. Then she felt warmth, the heat radiating from him, the brush of a breeze against her fingers. The blanket twitched and tugged, falling from beneath her elbows, baring her to the waist once again as she felt the heat of him draw closer with the dip and shift of the bed. Open them now. Her hands fell from over her eyes, but she did not open them, even as she swayed toward him, feeling breathless at his nearness.

He was close enough now to notice that her eyes were still closed, close enough to see the loveliness of her face and the beauty of her form and features - the fall of her hair over the willowy curves. He reached out to touch her, but instead of touching her face, he traced the curve of one breast, tender and gentle in his caress. "You are so young and so lovely," he whispered, hardly realizing he said it aloud.

Whatever she had expected, it had not been the heat of his hand there. Her eyes snapped open, wide and dark with longing as her breath stuttered in her chest. "Frederick ..." His name was a whining whisper on her lips as she leaned toward him, his touch igniting a need for more that she could not describe.

He smiled again as she said his name, recognizing the yearning in her voice, the desire she was having a hard time hiding, if she was even trying to keep it hidden. "Do you trust me, Serafina?" he asked her quietly.

"What kind of question is that to ask me now?" she demanded, though there was little aggression in her tone. She shifted toward him, finally letting her hands touch, even if all they did was slide over his chest, admiring without words. "If I didn't trust you, you ridiculous man, I would not be naked in your bed, trying not to beg you to get on with it!"

He laid a finger against her lips, amused by her impatience and a little surprised by it. "Some things should not be rushed," he told her, with infinite patience, both lover and teacher. "Lay back," he instructed again. She was free to touch him, if she so desired, but he didn't require it and he knew a thing or two about how to please a woman.

"Make me." It seemed as though she was taking her father's advice from so long ago to be brave in her marriage bed to heart. Impatient, and tired of having to be the obedient, compliant, patient little woman, Serafina was having a surge of confidence, and she was not about to let it pass just because he didn't know it was happening. Instead of lying back like an insipid husk of a wife, she pressed closer, lips seeking his, hands smoothing over his skin. She wanted more, and she intended to get it, even if he wasn't inclined to let her just yet.

She surprised him again with her defiance, especially since he was not only her husband but her king, and yet, it only seemed to amuse him further. He offered no argument as she pressed closer, his arms going around her to pull her close, now that she'd decided what she wanted - or thought she wanted. The kiss he pressed to her lips was deeper than before, more demanding, but never rough or clumsy.

She squeaked as his arms wrapped about her, pulling her against him, feeling the warmth of his skin against hers. For a moment, she had forgotten that she was naked, that he was likely the same. But there was no mistaking that fact now, pressed to him as she was, feeling her skin flush at his touch, at the demand, the command, in his kiss. Helpless against the rising wildness she had never expected to feel, her arms curled about his shoulders, her body willingly molding to his, soft against the hard strength of his own form. But what came next? She had no idea.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

She had said she wanted to touch, but did she want to be touched in return? There were no rules or instructions when it came to making love, but there was right or wrong. Her reaction to his kisses was encouraging though, knowing that the more he stoked her fire, the easier it would be for her when the time came for him to take her. He became acutely aware of the warmth and softness of her body against his, the contrast of soft curves to hard angles. He plied her with kisses and soft caresses, his hands moving deftly over those curves, searching, exploring, teasing and tantalizing, until he felt his own body aching with need and desire.

The tremble had returned to her limbs, even as her kisses grew more confident, sharing her breath with him as his ghosting hands drew sounds from her that she was sure no lady should ever make in company. And still it wasn't enough. Nothing seemed to touch the aching fire deep inside, the liquid heat pooling just out of reach. She had never felt anything like it; the barest taste of it had come with their first dance, repeated with stolen touches and warm smiles, but none of that had even hinted that this would be the ending. Close as they were, she wanted to be closer, her legs slithering beneath the blanket until she rose onto her knees, planting herself firmly on his thighs. The shock of what she then realized was pressed against her belly brought an aching gasp to her lips, tearing her mouth from his as she stared into his eyes, wide-eyed and wanting.

He did not want to give her instructions, but perhaps there was no need. Her body would instruct her, tell her what it longed for, or so he hoped. The time for words had passed, but even in the dark, his expression spoke volumes for what he was feeling and there could be no denying his body's desire for her when the proof was so very obvious now that they were so close. "Sera," he whispered, his voice even more raspy than usual, "I need you." Not want, not even desire but need, with every fiber of his being.

Need. Not love, or desire, or want, but need. That was what she felt, too, that over-arcing force that would not be stilled until something happened to satisfy a need. "T-tell me what to do," she whispered back to him, trembling fingers tracing the line of his jaw as her lips brushed his with each word. "I ... I don't know how ..."

Was she really that innocent that she didn't know what to do, even by instinct? He frowned a little, unsure how to explain and needing her so much it was starting to become painful. "It's going to hurt at first," he warned her, "but the pain won't last." He guided her hand to where she had strayed once before, before he'd gotten undressed, telling her without words just how much he wanted her.

The only daughter of an over-protective father who had taught her to wear a dagger in her garter as soon as she began to develop womanly parts ... It shouldn't come as a surprise that Serafina was this innocent. But then, Frederick didn't know about the dagger yet. She'd been forcibly divested of it by her ladies before they'd brought her to him. But despite her innocence, her shy uncertainty, she needed him, resting her forehead to his as he drew her hand between them. Soft fingers found aching flesh, touching, stroking, wondering if he ached the way she did. "Inside me?" she asked in a breathless whisper, needing him to guide her a little further.

He stifled the groan that wanted to slip past his lips, but he could not stifle the swift intake of breath at her touch, or the thudding of his heart. "Yes," he whispered in a barely audible voice, fingers stroking her cheek, tenderly, encouragingly, determined not to take her by force or to push her along any faster than she wanted to go. He had been nothing but honest with her. It would hurt, but only for a moment, and then there would be pleasure.

She hesitated, but only for a moment. This was the purpose of marriage, wasn't it? This joining, this moment when two became one ... this was forbidden by the Temple except between husband and wife. This was what he needed a wife for, to plant his seed and create an heir. But his need right now didn't seem to have anything to do with children. He said he needed her and, good Goddess, but she needed him in return. If this was the way to do it, then so be it. Swallowing her fear, she inched closer, rising up, shuddering as she felt the intimate contact between them, lowering to fulfill what he needed. It was slow going; she had never felt anything like this, hot and cold, tightness and passion combining to make it a struggle that blossomed into pain when she reached the point of no return. Be brave, little lioness. So she was brave. Clinging to his shoulders, squeezing her eyes shut, she forced herself to go on, crying out at the burst of pain that told her she was no longer a maiden. Sobbing softly as she pressed her face against his neck, ashamed of her own weakness.

Ever patient as he was, it was growing harder to hold back, harder to contain his own passion, and yet, somehow he found the strength within himself to do it, for her sake. While there was pain for her, for him, it was ecstasy - to hold her close, to join together with the woman he was slowly falling in love with, to feel her move against him, clinging to his shoulders, her tears warm against his neck. "Shhh," he murmured, holding her close, one hand rubbing her back. He presumed it was the pain that had brought those tears, and his heart felt heavy with guilt, and yet, it was a necessary pain if they were going to truly be husband and wife. "It's all right. It won't hurt anymore," he gently promised and encouraged, hoping he was right. He knew some women never found pleasure with a man, but he hoped she wasn't one of them.

"F-forgive me," she whispered, drawing her head back to dash at the tears on her cheeks. "I did not mean to weep." And there was the bravery that her father had obviously known she had in her. Despite the pain, the ache that itched and burned, she raised her face from where she had hidden, brushing a soft kiss to the corner of Frederick's mouth. She was still hurting, the urgency of her desire gone, but nonetheless she moved, her hips rocking as her back arched, wanting to give him what he needed despite it all.

He lifted a hand to brush the tears from her face, a soft smile on his own. He would not be disappointed if this was as far as they came this night; this was one woman who was worth waiting for. He wouldn't have minded, knowing there were still plenty of nights to come, but then she was moving against him, despite her own pain, and he was entirely too far gone to stop her, even if he'd wanted to. His breath caught in his throat at the exquisite sensations that were making themselves known, his hands catching at her to pull her closer, to ease himself deeper, as carefully as he dared.

Each catch of his hands, each sound he made, guided her onward, ignoring the ache and pinch inside as she slid closer, taking him deeper. Her hands smoothed over his arms, his shoulders, down his chest, nose to nose with him, watching his face in tender fascination as she finally did what he needed her to do.

All his resolve, all his patience, all his carefully-controlled composure slid away in that moment when he could hold back no longer. Unaware as yet of the fact that he had reached the peak of his passion without her, there was no turning back, all of his senses filled with her presence, with her touch and her smell, her warmth and her love. He groaned at last as he reached that pinnacle and went over the edge, but it was not pain he was feeling but the most exquisite pleasure - so exquisite it nearly brought him to tears.

She held him as he reached that peak, as he fell from that precipice, stroking her fingers through his hair, letting him hold her so tightly she was sure to bear the marks of his fingers in her flesh when morning came. The pain for her had eased, barely there at all, but she had not climbed with him. For all she knew, this was the way it was. There was something special in being the one who could help him find this release, who was privileged to watch the mask fall away entirely. She just hoped that it would not always hurt so much to get him there.

It took a few minutes before his breath eased and his heart slowed, and all the while it was him who clung to her, instead of the other way around. Perhaps she didn't yet realize what it was she'd done or how she had affected him, but he found he was feeling more relaxed and more content than he had in a very long time. Then, too, he got the feeling that she had not joined him in that sweet release and though he had not been able to hold back any longer, he regretted that he had not been patient enough to bring her along with him. "I'm sorry," he told her, touching his forehead to hers, as his breath and pulse slowed.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serafina smiled softly, brushing a kiss to the tip of his nose before her brow settled against his, her fingers still gently stroking through his hair. "For what?" she asked tenderly, almost amused that he felt the need to apologize for something he had so clearly needed.

"Sorry it hurt. Sorry it did not give you pleasure," he replied, with a frown on his face that proved just how sorry he was. It was only her first time, but he had wanted it to be pleasant, not painful. He traced her cheek gently with a single fingertip. "Are you tired?" he asked suddenly.

"We both knew it would hurt," she reminded him, her voice gentle, awed by the change in him that such a simple act could create. "Was I meant to have pleasure? No one ever told me to expect pleasure for myself." She smiled, tilting her cheek into his touch, surprised by his sudden question. "I ... I am not ready to sleep," she admitted, concern touching her expression. "But if you wish to sleep, I can go."

"Go?" he echoed, the frown on his face deepening. Was that what she wanted? Was she going to cloister herself away from him the same way that Elena had? "I had thought we would share a bed," he told her, though he would not argue if she wished for her own bed tonight or any other night. The queen's bedchambers and quarters were hers to do with as she pleased. It was the least he could offer her in the way of freedom.

"Oh!" The surprise on her face was true, the product of more well-meaning advice that had fallen short. "I-I hadn't thought you would want me here," she confessed awkwardly. "My stepmother said ... and then I was taken to those other rooms when we returned, and ... oh goodness, I have said entirely the wrong thing, haven't I?"

His eyes narrowed, just a little, though he showed no outward signs of anger. Her stepmother might have meant well, but she had no way of knowing what Frederick would want or need or expect of his queen. "What else did your stepmother say?" he asked, doing his best to keep his tone neutral and steady.

This close, there was no way to miss the narrowing of his eyes, or the tension in his frame. Serafina's face fell, knowing she had blundered into saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, feeling a dozen voices in the back of her mind repeating old complaints about her mouth and her lack of tact. She dropped her eyes from his, her hands slithering from their caress at his neck to twist together between them. "Surely it does not matter," she offered placatingly. "She was clearly wrong. You are the king. Your wish is law."

"This is not about my wishes or your stepmother's well-meaning advice, dear heart," he said, gentling his voice and tipping her chin upwards to meet his gaze. "Do you remember what I told you? There is nothing you can say or do to anger me. If I grow angry, it is not your fault. It is the fault of others for putting false ideas in your head." He sighed, not really wanting to talk about her meddling stepmother now, whether she'd meant well or not. "Would you like to take a bath?" he asked, changing the subject.

Startled by the change in subject, she blinked, her eyes widening in amusement. "Now?" she asked, her lips curving in a hopeful smile. A bath sounded wonderful, though she was uncertain that his staff would appreciate being roused for such a luxury in the dark hours of the night. But the ache had returned, and though it felt wonderful to be so intimate with him, she was dreading the pain that was sure to come when they finally separated. "That would be lovely, but ... I do not want to put anyone to any trouble."

"Nonsense. It's our wedding night," he told her, knowing there were always a few servants on hand to tend to his needs and desires. "Stay here, and I will make the arrangements," he said, touching a tender kiss to her cheek before very gently extracting himself from her embrace.

She bit her lip, fighting to keep her face smooth as he slipped out from beneath her. It was not pain so much as a dull stinging now; like a scratch exposed to some irritant that would settle in time. "They will not mind?" she asked, trying to distract herself from that sting as she groped for the blankets to cover herself once again. Her thighs pressed together, aware of a liquid stickiness that felt decidedly unkempt.

"It is our wedding night, Sera. I do not think it is too much to ask," he pointed out. It was, after all, his servants' responsibility to tend to their king and queen's needs and desires, no matter the time of day or night. He found his breeches and pulled them on over his legs and hips. "I will be right back," he warned her, before going off to find a servant to tend to his requests.

Left alone in the bed, Serafina lay back, gazing up at the canopy above her as she replayed the last hour or more. There was no denying that she was now a woman; not only that, but irrefutably married. Their coupling had given him something she couldn't quite put a name to - a calmness that came from a lack of all tension in his frame, his worries and concerns forgotten for just a few minutes. Until she had opened her mouth and said entirely the wrong thing. She cringed at the memory of his eyes narrowing. Such a tiny gesture, but it had come with the loss of the relaxation they had found for him. She would have to learn how to cultivate that sense of satisfaction for him, how to prolong it. No man should carry so much tension all the time.

He wasn't gone long, but long enough to have procured a plate of chocolate pastries and a bottle of wine. The smile had returned to his face again, as if nothing had been said to upset him. He kept the breeches on for now, but didn't bother with the shirt. "It will take a few minutes to fill the bath," he told her. "In the meantime ..." He held up the plate and the bottle, a smile on his face, hoping she'd appreciate his offering.

Rolling onto her side as he returned, she let her eyes focus on the bounty he had brought back with him, and let out an unrestrained giggle, rushing to muffle her laughter in the pillow. Pastries, of course. One hopeful conversation with his marvelous cook about perhaps someday being allowed to bake pastries in his kitchen, and suddenly the man was producing them himself. Evidently he didn't want the queen in his kitchen at all. "Oh goodness," she wheezed, wiping her eyes as she fell onto her back once again. "I apologize. Oh, that man ..."

"Did I miss something?" he asked, arching a curious brow, unsure what precisely had amused her so much, though he was happy she was laughing again. It hurt his heart to know that he'd caused her pain, but it could not be helped, and now, he wanted to do everything he could to make up for it ... including pastries.

"Oh, no, I just ..." Smothering her giggles again, she pushed herself to sit up, wincing a little when her hair caught beneath her hand. "Your cook," she tried to explain through her amusement. "I asked him earlier if he would mind terribly if I were to use his kitchen from time to time to bake. He asked me what I would be baking, and I ... I said pastries. And now look! You hold the evidence in your hand that he doesn't want anyone using his kitchen!" She cackled, grabbing a pillow to muffle that laugh before it got too out of hand.

Her attempt to muffle her own laughter made him chuckle. "Dear heart, you are the Queen of Carantania," he reminded her. "Feel free to laugh to your heart's desire." He moved over to seat himself beside her on the bed, picking up one of the pastries to offer her a bite. "Perhaps we should arrange for you to have your own kitchen," he suggested, though that might take some doing. He had never heard of a queen who did her own baking, but there was a first time for everything.

Hugging the pillow to her chest, she let out another soft giggle around her mouthful of sinfully delicious dainty. "I will break him down," she predicted impishly. "Part of the joy is to rub shoulders with people who would ordinarily never see me. You wait ... It may take me a year, but I will have his blessing to use his kitchen, and his help whenever I ask for it."
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I do not doubt it," he replied, smiling warmly. How could anyone resist the charms of this sweet creature once they got to know her? Oh, he had no doubt she would have more than the cook eating out of her hand before long. He swung his legs up to lounge beside her, before taking a bite of that same pastry, moaning with pleasure and giving the servants in the next room something to gossip about.

Daring to push her luck a little further, Serafina inched closer, tucking herself close against his side to lay her head on his chest. "If I am to bathe, I should braid my hair again," she mused thoughtfully. "It takes hours and hours to dry. Perhaps I should cut it."

"Cut it?" he echoed, sounding almost alarmed by such a suggestion, though he would not deny her even that if it was what she wished. He could have easily asked one of their servants to come re-braid it for her, but he was enjoying the illusion of privacy too much for that. "I could braid it for you," he suggested, shifting his position so that he was facing her. "Here, take this." He handed her what remained of the pastry.

She glanced up at him, surprised by the alarm in his voice. "I wouldn't cut it all off," she tried to assure him, sitting up to take the pastry from him, and sighing. "Hold a moment." Handing the pastry back, she bent her head to take the edge of the blanket between her teeth, protecting her modesty as she rose stiffly onto her knees for a brief moment to drag the long length of her hair out from under her own backside. Settling down with the heavy curtain hanging over her shoulder, she settled her hand at her breast, taking over blanket duty from her teeth, and claimed the pastry from his hand once again. "Do you see the problem?" she asked with a cheeky smile.

"I do," he replied, having witnessed her struggling with both her hair and the blanket, too amused to offer to help. Besides, he was in charge of the pastry. He thought her modesty with the blanket was a little unnecessary at this point, but he said nothing of it, in hopes there would come a time when she was not so modest in his company. The firelight was still the only light in the room, and somehow the way it set her hair and face aglow only made her all the much lovelier to his eyes. "If you wish to cut it, I will not protest, but I think perhaps you should wait until morning, yes?" he teased back, as he handed her the pastry.

"Your royal hairdresser would no doubt love to cut a few inches off, if only to make taming it into suitably regal styles a little easier on his arms," she teased him fondly, biting into the pastry with a low groan. She definitely hadn't eaten enough at the banquet today.

"If that is what you wish," he replied, noting the way she was enjoying the pastry, the groan doing strange things to his body that were thankfully covered beneath his breeches. He did not have a brush readily available, but instead carefully combed out the knots with his fingers. "This will be a crude braid, as my fingers are not as practiced as his," he pointed out, though he was enjoying the soft texture of her hair as he worked his fingers through it.

"I trust you," she promised him, settling herself at a better angle to allow him access to her hair as she swept the whole lot back off her shoulder. It felt ... nice ... to have his fingers working through the occasional tangle. He was far more gentle than he gave himself credit for.

He fell silent for a moment as his fingers separated her hair into three separate strands and began to weave those three strands together into a plait. "I used to braid my mother's hair when I was a boy," he confessed quietly, though he was not comparing her to his mother in any way, other than that.

"Really?" For some reason, it was hard to imagine him as a child. Perhaps it was because of the difference in their ages - he was her elder, certainly; all her life, he had been an adult, a man. But this quiet confession made her smile, still. "You have very gentle hands."

Of course, he had been a child once, though it seemed like a long time ago. Sometimes, it seemed he'd lived his whole life as a king, but that was not true. "She said it calmed her to have me braid her hair. I do not know why," he admitted further.

Serafina could make a guess. "Perhaps it has something to do with the way we're raised," she suggested softly. "The only time I was ever calm and quiet, the only time I had to just sit and talk and be myself, was when someone was brushing my hair, braiding my hair. The person who does it sees you at your most vulnerable, before all the masks slide into place, and after you take them off. I've always found it very calming."

"Perhaps I should do it sometimes for you," he suggested, though it was not necessary and it would ultimately be her decision. But if it was something they both enjoyed, he saw no harm in it. "It always made me feel ... closer to her somehow," he confessed, a hint of sadness in his voice.

"Perhaps you should do it always for me," she suggested, glancing back over her shoulder at him. She didn't need to hear him confess his closeness with his mother to know that the loss of such a defining ritual in his life would have left a mark. "You are the king, and you have so many burdens. If I were to insist on this, you would have at least some small part of your day, every day, when you and I could be calm and quiet together."

"You would do that for me?" he asked, surprised by her suggestion. In truth, she continued to surprise him with all the little nuances that were Serafina. "I was rather hoping we could share a bedchamber, though I understand if you would prefer your own bed." He had said something similar earlier, though it was obvious now that he was not only talking about the wedding night.

"I would rather stay with you," she blurted out, hurrying to cover her hasty response. "That is, if you do not mind my presence. I ... I must confess, when I was told we would be sleeping apart, I was afraid. I do not know this land, or these people. It ... it frightens me to think of being all alone."

He paused in the braiding of her hair for just a heartbeat, frowning at her confession, a brief flare of anger for whoever had told her such things without his leave. "You need never sleep alone so long as I live," he was quick to assure her.

He had reached the point in her braid when she no longer needed to face forward, twisting to meet his gaze with deep gratitude. "I am glad," she assured him in return. "I did not mean to make you angry, before. I am ... very untutored when it comes to the ways of royalty, or even of marriage. I will try harder."

His brows ticked upwards at her statement, flicking a glance her way before he looked back to his braiding. "It was not you who made me angry, love. It is the thought of ... people putting false notions in your head of what to expect from marriage. I do not deny that my first marriage was not a loving one, but that does not mean our marriage will follow suit."

"I doubt their words were a reflection on you, sweetheart," she promised him softly. "I am sure young women all over the world are told not to expect their husband to share their bed after their first son is born. These were things I was told when I was newly fifteen; they were not tailored to you."

"I suppose it depends on whether you wish me to share your bed," he pointed out. He knew of many couples who were in loveless marriages, just as his first marriage had been, but he was hoping for more with Serafina.

She laughed gently, covering his hands with her own. "I have already said I would be glad to," she reminded him. "I would be afraid to sleep alone, Frederick. You are all I have here; why would I deny myself the opportunity to be with you?"
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now it was his turn to look almost shy to answer her question. "Would it be foolish of me to wish for more than companionship, Serafina?" he asked, a hint of sadness in his eyes for the pain of the past, the time and the love that had been lost, and yet, hopeful for some measure of happiness with this second chance at love.

Her hand rose, curling to his cheek tentatively. "I would never abandon you," she promised fervently. "Never. Even if, somehow, you managed to make me so angry that my brains dribble out from my ears, I will never leave you alone so long as you want me here."

That did not quite answer his question, but he took comfort from her answer and from her honesty. "I hope that I never give you reason to be so angry at me as that," he told her, just as fervently, but with a hint of amusement at the way she'd described her anger.

"Sire," interrupted a thankfully female voice. "The bath is ready."

He finished with the braiding, fastening it with a bit of ribbon before looking over to find the servant at the door. "Thank you, Marguerite. That will be all."

Serafina smiled back at him, startling just a little at the unexpected voice from the doorway. She scrambled to cover herself properly, grateful it was only one woman and not others peering in at them.

"Shall we?" he asked, sweeping the finished braid behind her shoulder, his fingers grazing her shoulder, covered at it was with the blanket. "You can bring that along if you like," he said, not expecting her to traipse from one room to the next without something to cover her, given her shy modesty. "It is only in the next room."

She blushed, glancing down at the tight grasp she had on the blanket. "Thank you." Perhaps it was foolish, to still be shy of exposing herself to him after consummating their marriage successfully, but she couldn't quite bring herself to let the soft wool slip as she slid from the bed. Curiosity had her glancing back to the rumpled sheets; embarrassment had her gaze whipping forward hastily when she noted what evidence was left behind her. "Through here?" she asked, her cheeks aflame as she gestured toward the door.

The king's private quarters did not only include a bedchamber, but a bath, a study, and a sitting room, all of which were comfortably furnished and tastefully decorated, though he was not opposed to allowing her to add her own flourishes. In fact, he had told her as much during their tour of the castle some days earlier. "Yes," he replied, pausing to bring the wine and a pair of glasses with him. He paid little heed to the soiled sheets as he knew the servants would be changing the bedding and stoking the fire while they were in the bath.

"You're coming too?" That came out as more of a squeak than she had intended. In her experience, men did not accompany women when they bathed. But then, her experience was not exactly wide-ranging, was it? Still, she was aware of the discomfort between her thighs, hoping he would not take note of the evidence she bore on her skin.

He paused, coming to a halt where he stood, with bottle and glasses in hand, looking more than a little puzzled by her confusion. "Unless you would prefer I do not," he replied, realizing he had made one assumption, while she had made another.

"No, I ..." She shook her head, smiling a little helplessly at their continued misunderstanding of one another. "I did not think you would wish to ... watch me bathing," she said apologetically. "I have no objection." That wasn't entirely true, but she did not want to put barriers between them.

"Sweetheart," he said with a chuckle. "I do not intend to watch." His eyes were shining with amusement again, and even a hint of teasing, but he did not bother to explain before gesturing with the pair of glasses that she lead the way into the adjoining room.

Her mouth fell open, an apology for her assumption already trying to escape. "Oh, I ... forgive me, I did not mean to ..." She pressed a hand to her brow as she moved out through the door, murmuring to herself, "Perhaps I drank too much brandy after the banquet."

He did not bother to explain what his intentions were exactly, but he did not see much point in merely watching her when he could be an active participant. Then again, if she did not want him there, he would abide by her wishes, king or not. "Or perhaps not enough," he suggested, with that same hint of amusement in his voice, though he was not suggesting she get herself drunk. A glass of wine to relax, though, might do them both a world of good.

"Oh, I ... I did not realize you would hear that," she muttered, blushing as she rolled her eyes. Her gaze focused on the steaming bath, a soft sigh of relief escaping her as she noted the towels and warm robe set nearby. The steam seemed scented with lavender, a fragrance she had always found soothing. "This is lovely," she said, smiling as she turned to face him once again.

The fire was going in the hearth, warming the room, and candles had been set about in strategic places. There were soaps and lotions, all of them fragrant. This was the kind of bath that a woman fancied, not a man, and yet, there he was. "There are some advantages to being queen," he told her, with an offhanded shrug of his shoulders as he went about popping the cork and filling the glasses with wine.

She laughed softly, shaking her head at the almost-indifference he displayed toward what was, for her, an unusual treat. A bath, so luxuriously prepared, in the middle of the night? "It is going to take me some time to grow accustomed to being called queen," she confessed, bending to dip her fingers into the water. It must have been boiling when it had been poured in, still too hot for comfort's sake. "This surely cannot be how you expected to spend your wedding night."

He frowned a little at her statement, realizing she had already exceeded his expectations. "I don't believe I had any real expectations. Hopes, perhaps, but expectations? Every moment spent in your company is a joy," he replied, hoping she understood what he was trying to say. "Shall I hide my eyes so that you can disrobe?"

"Ah, the water is still a little too hot to try," she said warily, though she could have borne it. Truthfully, she thought she should probably have that wine before dropping the blanket and brazening it out with him watching her. "May I?" She gestured to one of the glasses he held.

"Of course," he replied, moving closer to hand her one of the glasses and lifting his own in salute. "To a long and happy marriage." There was no mention of love or of children, though he hoped those things went without saying. "And to the most beautiful woman I have ever known."

"To learning not to blush every time I make eye contact with my deliciously handsome husband," she countered mischievously, raising her glass in an answering toast and, yes, blushing as her eyes met his. She giggled into her wine. "That one may take a while to come true."

When he spoke of her beauty, he was not only speaking of her appearance, but also of the beauty of her heart and soul. "Deliciously," he echoed with a grin. "I believe that's the first time anyone ever compared me to a pastry," he teased, eyes shining with amusement once again.

"Well, since I believe I have worked out what it was my governess was doing all those years ago, I think it is rather apt, myself," she teased him in response, drinking half the glass in one go. "I must admit to a certain curiosity as to how it is done."

One brow arched upwards at her claim to have realized what her governess had been up to. "Ah, now that is a lesson for another night," he told her, watching as she drained the glass before doing the same. Just the implication of what she had mentioned was making those breeches uncomfortable again, but he was doing his best to ignore it.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"But you will teach me?" she asked, surprised to hear the hope in her voice that must surely be reflected in her expression as she set her glass down. She wanted to learn; she wanted to know all the ways there were to help him lay down his burdens, if only for a few short moments, and relax in her company.

"It is not something one can teach precisely," he replied, his turn to feel a little awkward with the conversation. It was more a matter of experience, but he did not think either of them was quite ready for that just yet. "There are ... other ways to make love," he told her. "Many ways. Ways to make you relax and feel pleasure," he said, gesturing toward her with the empty glass. If the conversation continued on this course, he was going to need another glass.

She smiled, that mischievous glimmer still in her eyes. "You deserve such ways," she told him. "I ... I know it is presumptuous of me, but I should very much like to be a safe place for you. Someone you can be just Frederick with."

His expression changed, the composed look of a king falling away, surprised once again by her statement, but even more so, touched by it. "I would like that very much, Sera. Do you mind if I call you Sera, at least, when we are alone?"

Shaking her head, she let her hand touch his arm gently, strangely shy of touching the chest that kept trying to drag her attention away from his face. "I don't mind," she assured him, her voice soft, touched with the fondness she was only beginning to realize she was allowed to show for him. "You are the first to do so, outside my brothers."

"I know we have not known each other long, but I care for you, Sera, as I have never cared for anyone before," he told her quietly, seriously, echoing the fondness she was starting to feel for him with a fondness of his own. He took the glass from her, and set them both aside, his body aching for her once again, but even more so, his heart. "You are so lovely and so special," he told her, taking her hands between his, though he was dying inside to touch her again, to return the favor she'd given him.

Her smile softened, glad she had tucked the blanket into place as he took her hands, stepping closer with that bridging of the gap between them. "If I am special, it is because you made me so," she said in her soft way. "My greatest fear is to disappoint you, to let you down. I know nothing of being a queen, but I will learn. I promise I will learn quickly. You are not alone anymore, Freddie."

His brows arched upwards again, surprised at the shortened and more intimate form of his name, though perhaps it wasn't so surprisingly since he had done the same with hers. There were only a handful of people left who dared call him Freddie, and only ever in private. It was a nickname his mother had given him when he'd still been a small boy. Once he was past the initial shock of that, he latched onto what else his new bride was saying, which brought a soft smile to his face.

"You could never disappoint me, Serafina," he told her, drawing courage and comfort from her promise to never leave him - not the way her mother had - and leaning close to brush his lips against hers softly and tenderly. "The water will not stay hot forever," he reminded her with a smile.

Kissed so tenderly, she felt a new surge of the confidence that had made her so defiant in his bed, her lips curving in a smile that was almost wicked as he reminded her about the bath. "In a moment," she murmured, taking back custody of one hand to curl her arm about his shoulders, drawing him closer as her lips sought another kiss from his, deeper but no less tender for all that.

Emboldened by her reaction to his kiss, he let go of her hands so that he could slide his arms around her waist, careful of the blanket that still covered her. Following her cues, he deepened the kiss, gently exploring the sweetness of her lips and mouth as tenderly as he could. There was passion in his kiss, hunger even, but no demands, willing to give as much as he was given.

The kiss was ... different to those they had shared before. Others had been sweet, gentle, or they had been hungry, passionate, filled with demands she had not felt capable of answering. Demands she had answered, she realized, drawing back with a faint blush. Was she the one making demands now? Was that even allowed? Biting her lip, she offered him a shy smile, brushing the tip of her nose to his. "I should bathe."

"I should join you," he replied, the tiniest of smirks on his face, knowing she had not expected him to suggest that. He was not even sure if his presence would be welcome, but the bath was certainly large enough to comfortably fit both the king and his queen. He circled her nose with his, the gesture almost as intimate as a kiss, but more affectionate than passionate.

The shock she should have felt at such a suggestion was missing. Instead, she felt only playful, a teasing cast finding her smile as her hands fell to rest against his bare chest. "The King of Carantania likes to smell of lavender, does he?" she murmured impishly. She was aware that there were servants in the bedchamber, just able to hear them moving about, speaking softly to one another, unable to resist wondering what they thought of their king and his new queen. There was no doubt that the marriage had definitely been consummated by this point, after all.

"There are worse things to smell of," he replied with a smile, equally teasing to hers. His statement was certainly true enough; anyway, he was bound to smell like her just from sleeping so close, so what did it matter? He, too, was vaguely aware of the servants in the next room and of what they were doing, but he was so used to them hovering about that he didn't think to acknowledge them. "If you let me bathe with you, I promise to scrub your back," he teased further.

She giggled, knowing she was being talked into something that would scandalize almost everyone she knew. But did she care about them at a time like this? Her smile warmed, a soft touch of lips to his as she gently drew back. "I would rather just be held, than scrubbed." It was an invitation, gentle words offered from a blushing smile as she turned away, taking up the sturdy pins from the stool by the bath to twist her braid into a crown and pin it in place.

"That I can do," he eagerly agreed, watching her a moment with admiring eyes before turning to give her some modicum of privacy while he refilled both wine glasses, draining one without hesitation. He did not much care what the servants overheard or what they thought of a king and queen who bathed together on their wedding night, but he knew tongues would wag and before morning, half the castle would know that their queen was no longer a virgin.

Facing the tub, Sera drew in a calming breath, looking down at the water as she slowly lowered her hands to the edge of the blanket wrapped about her breasts. He had already seen her bare, already touched her, already knew her body ... in darkness. Here, where the candles were burning still, he would see with greater clarity what seemed to have pleased him before. Her fingers twitched, undoing the tuck of the blanket to let it fall as she raised her foot to step into water still hot enough to pink her flesh as it enveloped her.

Thankfully for her, his back was still turned at the moment that she drew away the blanket and stepped into the water. He knew the water would be hot, but hopefully cooled enough so that it was no longer scalding. It would, at least, stay warm long enough that they could both enjoy that warmth together. He downed the glass of wine, almost as if he needed it to gather his courage once again, before filling the glass again, emptying the bottle. It was not enough wine to make either of them drunk, but it might at least help them to relax.

She hissed between her teeth as she lowered into the water, the heat bringing the ache inside to a dull throb that would, eventually, fade away. But it felt wonderful. After a day of being on her best behavior, of dancing and ... other activities, to be able to simply loll in hot water was a luxury she knew she was likely to make a regular habit of. A low moan of pleasure escaped her lips as she relaxed, closing her eyes to absorb the soothing lap of hot water against her skin.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He paused a moment upon hearing the slosh of water, until he heard her moan with pleasure and knew she was immersed in the tub and enjoying its warmth. This was a very small comfort that he could offer her as king, but only one of many. He turned at last and made his way closer, carefully making sure his gaze was focused on her face so as not to embarrass her as he handed her the glass. "I presume the water is to your liking, lady?" he asked, smiling.

She raised her head, eyes opening with charming warmth as she took the glass he offered her. "It is a little hot, but I will survive," she answered, taking a sip of the wine in her hand before letting her head fall back once again. "I have been on my feet all day. I had not realized it was so tiring to get married."

"It will cool quickly enough," he warned her, though he thought the water should stay warm long enough for them to enjoy it for at least an hour or more. Long enough for the servants to finish changing the sheets, stoking the fire, and freshening the room. "There is nothing we need do tomorrow, but sleep and eat," he told her further, having arranged for that already. The demands upon him left him little time for such extravagances, but one did not get married every day.

"Truly?" The blessed relief on her face was matched only by a sweet kind of eagerness to be able to enjoy a single day in his company without the pressures of his responsibilities intruding. "That is the sweetest wedding gift you could have given me."

If anything was going to bring a smile to his face, it was that - her admitting that he had accomplished his task in making her happy, if only for a day or two. It was more than he'd ever had with Elena, or even Genevieve. Oh, they'd been happy for a while, until both had realized how impossible it was for them to be together. "It is not so much a gift as a tradition," he explained, not wanting to take credit where it was not really due. "But to see that smile on your face, I would give you a million mornings if I could," he added in a soft voice.

She laughed softly, touched by his caring so much what she thought or felt. "Perhaps you will," she suggested mildly, sitting up to set her glass down. "I thought you intended to join me."

"Um ..." he stammered, clearing his throat. Joining her would mean taking his pants off, but then what was he afraid of? She'd already got a pretty good look at him, despite the lack of light. "Are you sure you don't mind?" he asked, uncertainly despite being not only her husband but her king.

"I could close my eyes again, if you would rather," she offered, though she wasn't certain quite why he should be shy. He'd been intimate with others before her; surely he had grown used to his own body by now?

Ah, but that had been with women he had no feelings for - short-lived, meaningless trysts, as much as the ladies involved might have wished otherwise. He'd had his pick of the crop over the years, not just at the ball, but none of them had touched his heart the way she had, and that was the crux of the problem. "Perhaps you could just turn the other way," he suggested mildly, not only for his sake but her own, saving them both some embarrassment.

"Of course." She offered him a smile by means of reassurance, turning her head to look away as her hand took up a soft cloth to begin wiping down her skin, distracting herself from the temptation to look.

There was not much he could do to stop her from peeking, other than requesting she turn away. It wasn't so much shyness or modesty as it was simply knowing that until a short time ago, she'd been a virgin and had never laid eyes on a naked man before. Perhaps in the days to come, they would become more comfortable with each other, but for now, he was trying to go as slow as he could. He set his glass of wine beside hers, and once her head was turned away, climbed out of his breeches and into the water behind her. Even if she couldn't see what he was trying to keep hidden from view, she could certainly feel it from this angle.

Even shifting forward to allow him room came with its own pitfalls, for if she went too far forward, she would be curled up at the far end of the tub, out of his reach and certainly not in a position to clean her skin or relax. She couldn't help a the staccato rhythm of her breathing as his legs enclosed her hips, nor the startled way her back straightened as something else made itself known against the curve of her spine. "Oh ..."

"Sorry," he apologized, though there was no helping or hiding his body's reaction to her closeness. In fact, for a man who was well trained in the art of self-control, it was a compliment of sorts that he found her so beguiling that he could not control his body's reaction to her nearness. "I'm afraid my body has a mind of its own."

"Oh, please don't apologize ..." She twisted to look over her shoulder, wanting to meet his eyes as she explained herself. "I don't mind, truly. I ... I wasn't expecting that you ... Well, I suppose it makes sense. I said entirely the wrong thing, and you lost whatever calmness we found for you. It is understandable that-that you might need to ... go again, as it were."

"Need to ..." he echoed, puzzled for a moment by her explanation before chuckling a little in amusement. He wasn't laughing at her so much as at himself and his own ridiculous modestly. "You really don't understand, do you?" he asked, unsure just how much or what her stepmother might have told her. This was why he had asked her that, in the first place.

She hesitated, her uncertainty plain in her expression as she turned to face front once more, her cheeks flushing at his laughter. "Clearly not," she said quietly, looking at her folded hands beneath the water. "You must think me very stupid."

"No, dearest," he assured her, sliding his arms around her waist and leaning forward to touch a kiss to her cheek. "I think that you are very young. That is all. I was young once, too, you know," he pointed out. "Young and foolish," he added with a small frown.

Despite her shy embarrassment at what she saw as her failing to please him, she had no control as his arms wound about her, unable to hide the gentle shudder that rippled down her spine, or the way her eyes closed at the kiss he touched to her cheek. "What is it that I do not understand?" she asked softly, almost afraid to know the answer.

This was an explanation her stepmother should have given her, and he secretly wondered what might have happened if her mother had survived. It was likely she might not be in the position she was now. It was hardly likely Genevieve would have approved of her daughter entering a marriage with the man she had rejected all those years before, but that hardly mattered now. A pang of guilt made his heart ache, but he pushed it aside. It was foolish to dwell on a past that could not be changed. It was up to him to explain the nuances of matrimonial relations, since no one else had seemed fit to do it for him. He paused a moment to gather his thoughts before speaking, assuming she at least knew the basics. "It is difficult for a man to hide the way he feels about a woman, as he has no control over certain ... bodily reactions and functions," he explained, trying to avoid being too coarse in his explanation.

"Then ... this will happen every time we are together?" she asked, her eyes wide as she looked over her shoulder at him. "Doesn't it hurt?" Again, there was more concern for him than anything else in her gaze, worried that she might be bad for him in some way.

"No, not every time. Mostly when we are ... intimate," he explained further, searching for the right words. "It can be painful, but mostly it's just ... there," he said, explaining as simply as he could. "It is only because I find you desirable, Sera."

She considered this for a moment, unaware of the way her hands had unwound themselves, smoothing over his arms about her waist without conscious thought. "Then ... then it is a good thing?" she asked uncertainly. "That-that it ... your ..." She took a deep breath, and tried again. "That your thingy is prodding my back?"
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Serafina
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He smiled a little in amusement at her description, but wasn't about to correct her. "It a good thing so long as you do not mind my wanting you," he told her, though he did not see that as being a problem. She was not Elena or Genevieve or any of the other women he had known thus far in his life, and while she might not love him as yet, he had a feeling she at least found him as attractive as he found her.

"I don't mind." The words came in a breathless rush, her hand rising from the water to reach back, tracing a single finger along the line of his jaw. "I-I don't mind at all," she promised again. "I ... I daresay it is terribly unladylike, but ... I feeling a longing for you that I cannot truly describe. Not just to be in your presence, though that is there; to be in your arms, to be kissed by you, and more."

"I feel it, too, Serafina. It is only that it is impossible for me to hide it from you. Do you understand?" he asked, hoping she understood that he was feeling the very same thing that she was, but in a slightly different way and in a way that was so physical he was unable to keep it a secret, at least, when he did not have clothing to hide behind. "I could love you, Serafina," he told her quietly, touching his lips to the place just beneath her ear.

"I-I understand." That what was so obvious to her from him was the same as she felt, but her own was hidden from him until she dared to put it into words. And then something shocking and rather wonderful happened. His lips touched her in just the right place, sending a shockwave of crackling desire through her form, almost stronger than the desire she had felt before. She could not hide her moan, or the physicality of her reaction, the way her fingers gripped his arms as she shook against him. "I-I-I ..."

Encouraged by her reaction to that simple caress, he kissed her again, letting his lips trail kisses down the side of her neck, while a hand moved down her body to find the crux of her being, the place that was the center of that heat. His touch was gentle as his fingers explored, knowing she was likely still sore and not ready to let him have her again, but as he had promised, there were other ways.

Her palms pressed against his forearms, fingers splayed tightly as she gasped at the purpose in his touches, in the way he held her, the way he kissed her. She had not realized how swiftly that overwhelming feeling could come upon her, clouding her mind, negating any objection she might have raised in the hope that he might find some way to appease the clamoring desire that made her buck against the intimate press of his fingers. She could feel him at her back, knowing he wanted more, and yet she could not turn to give him what she thought she knew he desired. She was caught in his arms, breathless, taut as a wire, softly moaning his name as he played her body like a man born to it.

Though he might want more - or at least, some part of him did - all he really wanted in that moment was to help her find the same sweet release that she had given him. It was the least he could do, after all, and was just another way of showing how much he cared for her. He was experienced enough to know how to touch her, how to play her body, how to bring her to the peak of pleasure, so long as she let him. He was gentle in his lovemaking, but not so gentle that he left her wanting, nor so aggressive as to cause her pain, leading her slowly and patiently toward the desired objective, letting her response and reaction guide him.

She knew nothing of how to temper her reactions, her responses, giving him far more than she might have realized as she writhed in his grasp, utterly at the mercy of clever fingers and gentle lips, rising higher, winding tighter ... until suddenly that coiling inside seemed to snap, and she fell, breathless and spinning, crying out with sheer ecstasy at a release she could never have imagined would be hers to enjoy. And his name on her lips - not majesty, not even Frederick, but Freddie, over and over again, until at least she whispered it in tender shock, clinging to him as the last tremors left her supple form to abandon her, lithe and boneless, in his arms.

It wasn't pride he was feeling to know he'd accomplished the task so much as a mixture of relief and joy to know it was him who had given her this gift for the first time in her life and hopefully, it would be him forever after. He pulled his hand away to wrap his arms around her again, kissing her neck, but in a way that was more loving and tender than arousing.

Still gasping a little for breath, she found herself almost laughing as he drew her close once again, her hand lifting from the water to stroke against his cheek as he kissed her throat. "Wh-what was that?"

He smiled, wondering just how he should explain what he had done. "As I said, there are more ways to make love than just one," he reminded her of what he had told her just a short time before. Oh, what fun he was going to have teaching her.

"Goddess ..." It wasn't often she blasphemed, but this seemed appropriate in the circumstances. "No one ever said anything about that." Her lips curved in a tender smile, only for that smile to falter when she felt the unabated insistence of his own desire still at her back. "But what of you, Freddie? A wife should serve her husband, not the other way around."

"You have already done enough," he replied, even if his body thought otherwise. "I could not have hoped for more than that which you have already given me, Serafina. Truly." She had already given him so much, just in being here with him, just in caring for him and trusting him and giving herself to him in more ways than one.

"But ..." Languid though she felt, easily able to fall to sleep where she lounged with him in the water, she could not banish the concern that came with knowing just her closeness might be causing him pain. Curiosity and an inquiring mind were marvelous when twinned with newfound confidence, as Frederick was about to find out. Her head turned, lips seeking his in a tender kiss ... as her hand slid to her back, to touch and stroke, echoing the caress he had stopped her from exploring barely an hour ago.

His breath caught in his throat as her lips touched his and her hand moved to return the favor, once again. "Sera ..." he started, breaking off to exhale a soft moan, the pair of them slowly exploring and learning each other in their first night as husband and wife. The muffled chatter in the next room had quieted, leaving them alone once again with no one to overhear or witness their lovemaking.

Royal servants being what they were, there would be no gossip about what they had already overheard, but rather, a shared sense of pride that they were trusted enough that such things could continue with only a door between them and their masters. As Frederick moaned, Sera moved, awkwardly turning herself about in the warm lap of the water to kneel between his legs, ghosting soft kisses to his lips, his cheeks, his jaw, as her hand found more confidence to coax him into a release like the one he had given her.

And who was he to argue with that when what she was doing was exactly what he wanted? Instead, he found himself relaxing again, the tension slowly winding away, even as his body made the climb toward the precipice all over again. He surrendered himself to her touch, her kisses, her caresses, quite literally putting himself completely in her hands, until he, too, had crested the peak and fallen. It was different this time, less urgent, and yet, no less pleasurable. He whispered her name, sighing in contentment, as he reached for her, to draw her closer and reward her with the most tender of kisses. If this wasn't what it felt like to be loved, he didn't know what was.

Once again, she was fascinated, enthralled by the play of emotion over his face as he rose and fell at her hand, thrilling to the sense of power for a brief moment before she quite firmly told herself to stop thinking like that. Drawn close into his arms, she found herself straddling him once more, but with no insistent need poking at them, it was a warmer embrace. She should have felt exposed, vulnerable, but instead, she just felt wanted. Loving him would be so easy, when love came to her. There was no if in that thought.
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Serafina
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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Can Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You should get some rest," he whispered, as he held he close, though he seemed in no hurry to part from her embrace or leave the soothing warmth that enveloped them both. Then again, he didn't want them to call sleep there and wake with a chill when the water turned cold.

"So should you," she countered, smiling owlishly back at him as her nose circled his. "Perhaps in bed, however. I do not foresee wanting to move once I'm settled in. I happen to be very protective of my sleep." Perhaps that was a warning that she was not amenable to being woken up early.

He smiled back at her, feeling sleepy and lazy, but knowing once they settled themselves in bed, they would be able to relax there for almost as long as they wanted. "In bed, yes," he confirmed, though, of course, that meant one or both of them would have to move when neither seemed very inclined at the moment to do so. He drew a heavy sigh. "You will have to let me up, love," he told her quietly, almost reluctantly, before pressing a kiss to her forehead.

She whined softly through her teasing smile, reluctantly releasing him from her arms to lay her hands on the edges of the tub and stand, albeit a little unsteadily. "You will stay with me, won't you?" she asked suddenly, a moment of concern rippling through her as she considered how many responsibilities he had on his shoulders. He had said the next day was for sleeping and eating, but had he only meant for her?

"Yes," he replied without hesitation, moving to his feet as well so and grabbing a towel to wrap about her shoulders, thinking of her comfort before he considered his own. "There is nowhere I would rather be than with you," he assured her quietly, his smile warm and affectionate as he drew the towel over her shoulders.

"You are flattering me," she accused him warmly, taking custody of her towel to allow him to dry his own skin, feeling none of the shyness she had felt earlier. Perhaps it was because he had truly had his hands all over her by now; or perhaps she was too tired to care. Either way, she was eager to settle in bed, rubbing the soft linen over her damp skin as quickly as she could.

"You deserve to be flattered," he replied simply, that smile returning to his face that was hard to tell whether he was serious or teasing her, though it was likely a little of both. Privately, he wondered if anyone had ever thought to flatter her before, including her father and stepmother, but this was not the right time to ask. He grabbed up a length of linen for himself, quickly rubbing his skin dry before wrapping it modestly around his waist, abandoning his breeches.

She was as hasty as he was, wrapping herself in the robe that had been left out for her before pinning the braid from around her head. It fell with an almost audible thump between her shoulder-blades. "You may regret saying that," she warned him sweetly. "I may be someone who deserves a good hiding sometimes."

He wasn't sure if she was teasing him or not, but the look he gave her was a little alarmed. "I would never do that to you," he promised her, perhaps a little too serious, but he was not the kind of man who would do such a thing to a woman, deserved or otherwise.

She laughed at the look on his face, moving closer to gently stroke his cheek. "Why ever not?" she asked sweetly. "I might well deserve it from time to time. My father never spared the rod, and I am hardly a vicious little ingrate any longer, am I?" She flashed him a cheekier smile, rubbing her neck as she moved to open the door back into the bedchamber.

"No, neither did mine," he murmured, though he was less than convinced that he'd been deserving of those beatings. Had there ever been a time when his father had actually loved him? Gratefully, he had no such doubts where his mother's love had been concerned. "I have a hard believing you were ever that," he said, as he followed her back to the bedchamber, leaving the bath and their discarded clothing for the servants.

"I was horrible," she assured him, too eager to settle down in that enormous, comfortable bed to worry about flashing a little skin right now. "I was a demon child. Spoiled and entitled and awful, and then my father decided to stop treating me like glass and treat me like a normal person. Things improved when I realized I couldn't get away with everything I wanted to."

"I do not like the idea of striking children," he admitted, moving to the hearth to make sure there was enough wood in the fire, though this was a task usually left for the servants. His thoughts had turned a little inward at the talk of her childhood. "I am sorry you never knew your mother," he said, his voice quiet, wondering if he should follow Franz's advice and tell her the truth.

"I'm not." Perhaps that was a surprise to hear from her. But she had never known the woman, only heard the stories of her from the staff who had known Genevieve for little more than a year. "I do not think I would have liked her," Serafina admitted softly, shedding her robe to slide between the clean sheets with a soft sigh of weary relief. "My father adored her so much that losing her meant that I did not know him until I was six years old. Love like that ... it's more destructive than anything. I could not imagine abandoning a child simply because they are the last remnant of the one who gave them to you."

He turned his head toward her, a little surprised and saddened to learn she had not had the happiest of childhoods, at least, until at the start. "I should think that the loss of ... of a woman you so loved would only make you cherish her child that much more," he said, only just realizing the irony in his statement, but that was not why he cared for her now, despite the fact that he had once loved her mother. Now is not the time, he told himself, his insides suddenly tied up in knots, hating himself for keeping this one secret from her.

She lay back, the covers tucked beneath her arm as she rolled onto her side, watching him move about the room curiously. "As would I," she agreed quietly. "He did his best to make up for his neglect, in the end. He married again because he thought I needed a mother. I do not think he ever expected to have more children. But I'm glad he was happy with her, with the boys. Glad that his name will live on, at the very least."

"I am glad your father made amends," he told her, meaning every word of it, perhaps even more so knowing that he and his own father had not. He knew if he didn't join her soon, she was going to wonder why he was lingering near the fire, but he seemed to be struggling with something despite what they had just shared.

"As am I." Something seemed to have changed, she realized. Somehow, he was less willing to lie beside her than he had said he would be. She frowned, not wanting to lay any pressure on him, not understanding what she had done wrong this time. But she knew herself; she was too tired to absorb what her mistake had been this time, and she trusted him. He had promised he would not leave her alone. "Well ... good night, sweetheart," she offered, wriggling to settle down to sleep, curled up beneath the covers, her bare back to him.

His inner demons were no fault of hers, nor of his own, if he really thought about it, but if he wasn't honest with her now when he had the chance, when would he be? In the morning, perhaps? Tomorrow? If and when the subject ever came up? What was the point anyway? He did not love her because of her mother but for herself, alarmed to realize that love was exactly what he was feeling for her, even if he had not yet told her as much. Was it too soon? Was he only drawn to her because she was like her mother? No, he didn't think so. While she might bear a resemblance to her mother, in many ways, she was very different, and it was the differences that had drawn him to her as much as the similarities.

He looked over at her again, feeling conflicted, wondering if she could ever love him the way he was starting to love her, and then he was there beside her, wrapping his arms around her as he held her close, sharing his warmth with her as he had shared his love.

"Good night, dear heart," he whispered, unsure if she was already asleep. He touched a kiss to her cheek before settling down beside her, letting sleep take him at last, his secret still safe for the time being.
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