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Borderland Blues

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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 32
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:41 pm    Post subject: Borderland Blues Reply with quote

May 1617

Spring had finally come to Dunfayre, on the border of Coimbra and Francia, and to Darroch Keep, where the laird of the keep and his lady were enjoying an evening in the garden with their children, twins Jacques and Heather, who were toddling around, one after the other.

"Non, non!" their mother laughed as she scolded them gently. "If you grab at the flowers that way, mes cheris, you will be certain to be stung by a bee!" she warned, snatching two chubby hands away from the flowers that had finally come into bloom after a long winter.

Bryce chuckled behind her. "Och, a sting or tw'a will nae harm them, lass," he pointed out in amusement, ambling along behind his lady and their twin terrors at his own pace. It wasn't that he didn't care what happened to his children - more that he knew the harsher realities. A bee sting would not kill them, after all.

Justine frowned a little, knowing she couldn't chase after her children every moment of every day for the rest of their lives. Someday, they would have grow up and likely learn some painful lessons, but that day did not have to be today. "What kind of mother would I be if I let my children get hurt needlessly?" she countered, kissing each chubby hand before letting them go to toddle after each other and rising to face her handsome husband.

"No less a loving one, love," he promised her, moving to slide an arm about her waist. "We cannae coddle them. I'm not proposing to send them off to war or marriage, so stop frowning so. But wee accidents will happen - better they happen with us there than without."

"I suppose you are right," Justine admitted with a sigh and a faint frown. She batted at a stray strand of blond hair that kept falling in her face as her husband slid an arm about her waist. "You cannot blame me for wanting to always keep them safe, mon amour," she pointed out.

"Nay, I'll never blame you for it, love," he promised her, gently stroking that stray hank of hair back behind her ear as he bent his head to kiss the tip of her nose. "Tease you, but never blame you." He flashed her that familiar grin of his, that taste of the wildness he had never quite grown out of, despite his responsibilities as the laird's son and heir.

"You are still a rogue and a charmer," she teased, giving him a playful shove as he kissed her nose, a dimpled smile of amusement lighting her face. "If you are not careful, my lord husband, our family will be expanding sooner rather than later."

"Not in the garden in front of the bairns, spriggit," he chuckled back to her, tweaking her nose as she shoved him lightly. "Och, I'm denied my love! I'll surely die!" Throwing a dramatic hand to his brow, he staggered backward, pitching over to lie sprawled on the grass with no attempt to hide his grin.

Justine laughed, but it was the twins who squealed in delight at their father's antics, both of them sprawling atop him with cries of "Papa!" in unison, clearly enamored of their father and hoping for some attention. Justine only stood watching. If he wanted rescuing, he would have to ask.

Bryce let out a low grunt as the two little ones threw themselves on top of him, laughing as he gathered both Lachlan and Heather into his arms, bouncing them upside-down as he sat up. "I'm under attack, am I? Thought you'd take advantage of your da while he was deid?"

Both twins squealed happily, delighted with their father's attention, enjoying having him join in their fun, like any child would.

"I am not coming to your rescue, mon amour," Justine warned, arms crossed, but an amused smile on her face.

"Och, you're a cruel woman, Justine Darroch," he teased her laughingly, tipping onto his back once again to set the twins on their feet. "And you two are wee monsters." He grinned at his children, tweaking each little nose in turn.

The children giggled again at their father's antics, Lachlan batting his father's hand away, while Heather only wrinkled her pretty nose, but before Bryce could move to his feet, Justine was dropping into his lap and gathering their children to her.

"Let us show Papa just how much we really love him, mes cheris!" she told them.

Bryce let out a laughing roar, wrapping his arms around all three of them as they bundled onto him. His mouth found purchase on Justine's neck, blowing a loud, ticklish raspberry there, secure in the knowledge that she couldn't fight back while her arms were occupied with the toddlers.

Justine gasped at her husband's cheekiness, though it hardly surprised her. Instead, she let go of the children who giggled again as she pushed their father onto his back. "Maintenant, mes cheris!" she told them as she pinned Bryce to the ground and each child pressed a wet raspberry to his cheeks.

With another roar of laughter, Bryce succumbed to the attack, his chuckles loud in the softness of the garden around them, flailing wildly for the enjoyment as much of his wife as of his children. Spitty cheeks aside, there was very little he enjoyed more than playing with his family, utterly shameless about abandoning important visitors to the keep just to amuse the ones he loved.

It was clear from the smiles and laughter that the laird's little family enjoyed playing as he did, but it was Justine whose smile was like sunshine on a cloudy day. That smile was not just joyful, but it was full of love and affection both for her children and the man who had completely captured her heart. Who's to say how long they might have tarried there if the nurse hadn't come by with a clearing of her throat to fetch the children for bed?

"My lord, my lady," she started, "'Tis time for the children to rest."

"'Tis the children's parents who need a rest," Justine murmured quietly, a tiny smirk on her face.

Bryce sat bolt upright, Lachlan hanging upside down over his shoulder, and Heather sprawled across his lap, somehow managing to look guilty in the face of the nurse who cared for their children when duty took them away. He cleared his throat, gently setting the toddlers back on their feet. "Well, my wee monsters, 'tis time for dreams," he informed them, stroking a fond hand against Heather's cheek, ruffling his fingers through Lachlan's hair. "Going to fight dragons in your sleep tonight, aye?"

"Aye, Papa!" the little boy replied, sounding like a mix of his parents' accents, but more like his father's than his mother's.

Heather pouted and flung her arms around her father's neck, on the verge of tears. "No, Papa! No bed! Play!"

"Och, my wee spriggit, no tears now," Bryce chuckled, rising to his knees to embrace the little girl who clung to him. He stroked her hair, gently drawing her back until she looked him in the eye. "If you don't sleep, there'll be no playing on the morrow. Aye, and no riding, either. Sleep comes first, and then the fun begins again. Aye?"

The little girl sniffled, nodding her head obediently, before lunging to hug him around the neck again.

Justine sighed, tempted to tell the nurse that they'd tuck the children in themselves, but that would teach them nothing. Still, she sometimes wished she and Bryce could raise their children the way other families did, without the need for nurses and guards. "Come, mes cheris, and give me a kiss!" she told them, bending low and opening her arms for her children.

"Go kiss your mother," Bryce urged little Heather, even as Lachland threw himself at Justine. "She'll pout if you don't, and that makes her look like a fish." He made the appropriate face for the little girl, winking over a grin to give her a gentle push toward her mother.

"I do not look like a fish," Justine protested, making a face like a fish in hopes of making the little girl laugh.

Lachlan tried to imitate the face his mother was making as he went to kiss her, leaving another raspberry against her cheek. Heather giggled at her mother and brother before launching herself at her mother for a proper kiss and hug.

"All right now, my little darlings, 'tis time for bed," the nurse reminded them, as the children said their goodnights.

"Goddess bless you, monsters," Bryce told them as he rose onto his feet, sliding his arm about Justine's waist once again. He watched the little ones go with a warm smile, a last wave when they looked back before disappearing inside, and let out a low sigh. "What do you say to a retreat when this business with Coimbra's done, love?" he murmured. "Somewhere just you and me and them. No servants or nurses or duties in the way."
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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"If this business with Coimbra is ever done," Justine replied with a sigh and a small frown, as she leaned into her husband's embrace. She was not afraid of showering her affection upon him where others might see, but here in their private garden there was little chance of that. She did not have to tell him how much she'd love a retreat, but she was not sure how soon it might come to pass.

"It'll be decided, one way or the other, over this coming year, love," he told her confidently. "Like as not, we'll be asked to keep the border while yon Duke and his men march to support the true king in the heart of the land. So when that order comes, you'll be goin' to La Roche, you and the bairns, to stay with Juliana out of danger, should it come."

"And what about you?" she asked, with obvious concern in her voice and on her face. She liked the idea of a retreat, just the two of them and the children, but the price that came with it was too steep for her liking. What if something happened to him? How was she supposed to raise the twins alone? He was her everything; how could she live without him?

He met her gaze with gentle acceptance. "I must stay, love," he reminded her firmly. "I cannot ask my men to remain without me; I will not allow my father to lead when his arms can no longer bear the weight of his sword." Bryce stroked his hand tenderly against her cheek. "I do not believe there will be fighting here, Justine. But I will not abandon those who are expected to hold the line."

"I know," she admitted, still frowning a little, but drawing courage and comfort from his words and his touch. "You would not be the man I fell in love with if you did not stay, but I will not rest easy until it is over and I know you are safe," she told him, hugging him close and pressing her cheek against his chest so that he wouldn't notice the threat of tears. They could be so happy here, if not for Coimbra.

He wrapped his arms about her, holding her close against his chest, letting her listen to the beat of his heart against her ear as he kissed her golden curls. "I'll not make you a promise to survive, for no one but the Goddess knows that for certain," he murmured. "But my promise will be to fight harder than I ever have before for the chance to come home to you."

She would have replied, but did not trust her voice, so like their daughter, only nodded her head, sniffling softly as she clung to him. She would be the responsible adult for her children, but right now she felt as helpless as a child, and yet, she knew she needed to be strong for him, too. This would not be easy for him either, and he needed to be able to carry out his own responsibilities without worrying about her.

"Och, lass, be easy in yourself," he murmured, trying to cheer her. "Like as not, there'll be nothing but holding back those trying to escape the true king and his allies. We've a fine strong keep here. We'll hold and be well, you'll see."

She nodded her head and sniffled again, determined to find the courage to be strong for both him and their children. She knew he could not really know what would happen, but there was no point in arguing with him over something neither of them could predict or control. "You will promise me to be careful?" she asked, lifting her head from his chest to look up at him.

He smiled, cradling her cheek in his warm hand. "I've too much to live for to be a damned fool," he promised her in a fond tone. "You wouldnae let me rest in peace if I did go, stubborn wench that y'are." He grinned, dipping his head to kiss her affectionately.

She smiled into his kiss at his teasing, her arms tightening her embrace. As worried as she was for him, she could not remain sad for too long, not when he was trying so hard to make her laugh and rewarding her with kisses. "I will hold you to that promise, mon amour. And you will take us on holiday when this is all over."

"Aye, that I will," he assured her. "All my wee blessings in one place, and we'll hide away from the world for a week or two, just us and them." He chuckled teasingly. "We'll be beggin' for the nurse to take them away when we get back!"

"Are you certain one week will be enough?" she asked, her hands coming to rest against his chest, as she looked up into his face to meet his gaze. "When this is all over, we will make another baby," she teased, eyes shimmering with tears and bright with love and affection.

He chuckled, bending his knees to clasp his hands beneath the curve of her bottom and straighten, lifting her off her feet with the same motion. "We have to wait until it's all over, do we?" he asked with wicked mischief. "Going to put me in a chastity belt until then?"

She circled her arms around his neck and wound her legs around his hips. As unladylike as it was, there was no one there to see her but him. "Do you need practice, mon amour?" she teased in return. "Have you forgotten what goes where?"

He laughed, uncaring who saw them. Others could look all they liked; Justine was his, and he would fight to keep her if he had to. "I may need a wee bit of instruction," he teased fondly. "Some hands on reminders, you might say."

"And who do you propose give you these reminders?" she asked further, a teasing gleam in her eyes, both of them knowing full well who his instructor might be.

"Well, it isnae something I can ask my sister to show me, is it?" He laughed, hoisting her a little higher to make sure she was secure. He turned her back toward the opening in the wall, and bent his head, his mouth closing over the peak of one breast through the softness of her gown and shift. Justine really should know better than to tease - he was shameless.

She was about to respond to him with a teasing remark of her own when his mouth found her breast and she sighed with pleasure. It hardly mattered if she still had her clothes on; even his most chaste kisses and caresses were enough to drive her mad with desire. If they were not careful, they might have another child long before they'd planned.

Grinning up at her, Bryce very gently bit down on the hardening peak beneath the fabric, growling before he let go. "Aye, lass?" he asked innocently. "Was there something you wanted to say?"

"Oui, put me down, coquin, or I will give you a taste of your own medicine," she warned, though she doubted he would mind so much. Neither of them had ever been known to mind a little afternoon delight when the rare opportunity arose.

Bryce laughed again. "Now why would I do that when you're at my mercy up there?" he asked in that same innocent tone. "I can do all sorts to you right now, and you'll just have to take it, my bonny."

"Not so much as you might think, mon amour," she told him with a sly smirk on her face. "Do not say I did not warn you," she said, slipping a hand away from his neck to slide it between them and give him that hands on reminder he seemed to so crave.

"Justine ..." Her name was a growl and a warning on his lips, his gait changing to press her back against the wall, letting her slip just a little way down to grind his pelvis into hers as his breath played over her lips. "I'll have you right here and you know it, lass."

"You are my lord and master. I am at your every whim and mercy," she reminded him with a whisper of breath at his ear, her hand teasing him further, despite his warning. If he would have seen the smile on her face, he would have known that she was enjoying teasing him as much as he was her.

"I'm not a man to take without permission, lass." He moaned softly, drawing back with a supreme effort, letting her feet find their place on the grass as he caught her hand, raising her fingers to his lips. "I'm no one's master, least of all yours."

Justine smiled, touched not only by her husband's sense of honor, but also impressed by the effort it must have taken him to ignore his own bodily urges for her sake. He needn't have tried so hard though. She hardly would have faulted him or denied him if he'd pressed the issue. "And who said you did not have permission, my lord husband?" she teased further, smiling as she watched him life her hand to his lips.

"My wife did not give me her consent, bonny lass," he told her with a faint quirk to his smile, teasing his knuckles tenderly against her cheek. "I'm a rogue and a scoundrel, but I'll not take my woman if she's even a hint of unwilling."

"I would never deny you anything, mon amour, but I would prefer a bed against my back to a stone wall," she replied, leaning close to brush the whisper of a kiss against his lips. "Perhaps we should retire early this eve. I am feeling a little weary, aren't you?" she asked, reaching for his free hand and tangling her fingers with his.
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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 32
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A low chuckle resounded from his lips as she kissed him. "That's still not consent, love," he pointed out. "I'm not the only one in this wee marriage of ours, you know." With both her hands in his, he stepped back, drawing her away from the wall with gentle eyes on hers.

"Silly man, I consented the day I became your wife," she told him, letting go of his hands so that she could slide her arms around his neck again. "Let us have dinner and then early to bed, oui? Is that consent enough for you, mon amour?"' she asked her eyes sparkling with amusement.

He grinned down at her, his hands sliding in possessive affection about her slender waist as he dipped his head to taste her lips once again. "Aye, it'll do," he agreed in his teasing, gentle way. "I love you, my wee bonny."

"As I love you, mon amour," she returned, a smile warm with affection on her face, returning his kiss with one of her own. "We should eat. One cannot live on love alone," she reminded him, with a pat of his cheek.

"One could try, but one wouldnae last long," he agreed with a chuckle, stepping back to tuck her shoulder beneath his arm and steer her toward the keep and their own private rooms. "Nellie'll have the bairns in bed by now. Want we should stop in for a last goodnight?"

"Oui, I would like that. Merci," she replied, not surprisingly for a woman who adored her children and doted over them. She could never have imagined loving anyone as much as she did her brother until she met Bryce and had his children.

Truth be told, the childrens' nurse did far less for them than the nurse who cared for the Duke and Duchess of Lonnare's son did. Nellie hovered mainly, while lessons and fun were taken care of by the laird and his lady, ready to sweep in and whisk the little ones away when duty interfered. Bryce grinned down at his wife fondly. "I'd offer to race you, but last time you cheated."

"It is not my fault you did not have your breeches properly secured, my husband," she teased, recalling the event with a smirk. Fortunately, no one had been around to notice when Bryce's trousers had slipped off his hips and dropped to his knees.

"It is your fault when you're the reason they were undone!" He laughed with her, touching a smiling kiss to her blonde curls as they entered the keep. Catching the eye of the steward, he paused for just a moment. "Donald, have our meal sent up to our chamber, would you?"

Back inside the keep, Justine was the epitome of decorum, primly taking her husband's arm to let him escort her to their chamber. She offered a warm smile and a polite nod of her head to the steward, unable to hide the amusement from her eyes, despite her attempt at propriety. "Bonsoir, Monsieur Donald," she greeted him warmly.

"Evenin', m'lady." Donald bowed to her, straightening to nod to his laird. "The old laird sent word he'll be lodging with McAmbry tonight, so there's no obstacle to your plan, sir."

Bryce nodded himself, though he'd already known his father's plans. "Thank you, Donald. And have a good evening yourself."

"What was that about?" Justine asked, once Donald had departed, presumably to fetch their dinner. She waited only a moment before continuing on toward their chambers on her husband's arm, giving any onlookers the illusion that he was leading the way.

"Och, Da told us he wouldn't be back for four days," he reminded her gently, falling into step at her side easily. "Seems that Donald wasn't aware of it, though. The old man's been sending him messages so he knows where his old laird is every night since he went for his wander."

"Why did he not just go with him? We could have managed well enough without him," Justine queried. If Donald was that worried about her father-in-law, it might have been better for everyone if he'd accompanied him.

Bryce snorted with laughter. "Getting Donald out of Darroch is like tryin' to get a winkle out of its shell," he chuckled fondly. "The man's not made for the wilds."

"But he worries so about your father," she reasoned. "Would he not be happier if he had gone with him?" None of this really mattered much, but it made for idle conversation while they walked the halls of the keep toward their chambers.

"Aye, he might have been." The young laird shrugged lightly. "They're old men together, my bonny, like a marriage but without the bairns. One has to stay and keep an eye on me. I'm a wild hellion, you ken."

"Oh, I think you may have mellowed just a little in recent years," his young wife replied with a teasing smile and gave his arm a small pinch. "Shall we look in on the little ones?" she asked, pausing outside the door to the twins' nursery.

He laughed, dropping his arm to pat her backside fondly. "Aye, let's look in on the monsters before bed," he agreed, raising his hand to push open the door himself and usher her through.

The childrens' rooms were simply a large playroom with a bedroom attached, both still young enough to share a chamber for sleeping. Nellie looked up as the lady and laird entered, offering them a warm smile.

"Och, they'll be glad you came," she enthused. "All talk about Mama and Da getting to bed, they were."

"I wouldn't miss it," Justine replied, letting go of Bryce's arm so that she could sweep her way into the bedroom and peek on her children. "Are they sleeping, Nellie?" she whispered to the nurse as she peered into the dark in the direction of her children's beds.

"Best guess is not quite yet," Nellie told her cheerfully, continuing to tidy up as Bryce leaned over his wife's head to peer into the dark bedroom. "Don't let the laird get them excited."

Of course, it would be Bryce the nurse feared would get the children excited, not their mother, who could be just as mischievous when in the right mood. "Perhaps you should tell the laird that," she replied with a grin before quietly pushing her way into the children's room to kiss them each good-night.

"I'm surrounded by jesters," Bryce muttered to himself, following his wife into the darkened room.

The twins were just at the sweet edge of sleep - Lachlan deeper than his sister, barely awake enough to do more than smile and yawn as he was kissed goodnight all over again. Heather reached out to hug Justine when she leaned over the bed, snuggling down beneath her covers with a contented sigh.

These were the moments when Justine knew her children were angels. They had to be - angels sent by the goddess for her and Bryce to love. As regular as these nightly visits had become, she never took them for granted or considered them routine. She kissed each child, one after the other, tucked them into their covers, and whispered words that were only meant for her children's ears. And then, she whispered a quiet prayer to the goddess to keep her babies and kissed them one more time. It never varied; it was always the same.

Bryce watched, never one to take this time away from Justine. He knew it was enough just to be present; that the twins knew he was there. He smiled as Justine murmured her prayer, offering her his arm to guide her from the room once more as the settled sound of sleep rose from the beds.

If she'd loved Bryce before they'd had children, she loved him even more for giving her those two little angels to love. There were times when tears of happiness welled in her eyes, but tonight was not one of those times. She only sighed and smiled and laid her head against her husband's shoulder as he led her from the room.

With a quiet goodnight to Nellie, he guided his smiling wife out of the nursery and into their own rooms, where their evening meal had been laid up on the table for them beneath covers. "I think they know we're not coming back out again tonight," he chuckled.

"There are times when I would like to lock the door and stay here alone with you forever," she said, but then she would never see her beloved children again or her brother and his wife and family, who she also loved dearly.

"We'd kill each other within a month," Bryce predicted in amusement. "You're not made to be shut away, love. You need the sun and the sky, and four hooves pounding the earth beneath you."

"Mm, peut-etre," she replied, unconvinced. "These days I have four little feet pounding the earth beside me instead," she pointed out with a playful smile, as she tugged him by the arm toward the table, her stomach betraying her by grumbling loudly.
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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He laughed, letting her tug him along. "Be patient, bonny, you're worse'n Lachlan for your food," he teased, releasing her to pull back her seat like the gentleman he often tried to pretend he wasn't.

"Merci, mon amour," she told him, smiling sweetly up at him as she took her seat. "What do you think Glynnis has conjured up for us today?" she asked, inhaling the smell of dinner, but not yet removing the cover on her plate. Hopefully, it wasn't haggis. Native dishes were one of the things she missed about home, but she had been working with the cook to learn how to make some of those dishes.

He picked up the cover on his own plate, sniffing the steam suspiciously. "Looks like some kind of fish stew," he said. "With ... a dirk made out of bread?" He held up a small baton of white bread, made in the Frankish style, rather than the rather more dense Coimbran and border breads.

"That is better than some dishes," she said, removing the cover from her dish and setting it aside. She smirked a little at his description of the bread. "Do not judge until you have tried it, mon amour," she chastised him gently.

"Feel it!" He laughed, hefting the loaf in amusement. "It's got no weight! How's that food?" He put it down to cut the bread for them both, grinning over at her. "You've been filling Glynnis' head with talk of fancy food again, haven't you?"

"Bread is not fancy, husband. In Francia, we say le pain c'est la vie," she told him. Bread is life. She waited until he had cut the bread into slices before reaching for a slice, dunking it in her broth, and taking a bite. "C'est bon," she said, gesturing for him to do the same.

"Man cannae live on bread alone, lass," Bryce pointed out. "Not bread like this, anyway." He flashed her a grin, thoroughly enjoying teasing her. Truth be told, he was deeply appreciative of the education his palate was getting now she had her claws into the cook. Dunking his slice of bread sloppily, he lifted it to his mouth, taking a bite that was entirely too big and chewing it down with every sign of enjoyment.

"Ah, you do like it!" she declared with a satisfied grin, waggling her slice of bread at him triumphantly. "I will make a Frank of you yet," she teased, her grin widening as she went to work on her dinner as daintily but enthusiastically as she could.

He chuckled around his mouthful. "You can pry roasted meat and tatties from my cold dead hands, love," he warned her in amusement. "But your fancy food's nae so bad."

"Tatties or titties?" she asked with a giggle and a playful gleam in her eyes. Though they came from two very different countries with very different cultures, each had learned to appreciate those differences, rather than criticize them.

He snorted around his spoon, spraying broth over the table a short way while groping for his napkin. "Och, woman, you'll get me in trouble wi'the housekeeper over my manners again!"

"The housekeeper is not here to scold you," she reminded him, that teasing gleam still in her eyes. It wasn't often she was able to get the better of him and couldn't help gloating a little.

"I dinnae think you want your titties roasted and served on a plate," he pointed out, wiping his mouth and chin clean before applying himself to his meal once more.

"I doubt you would enjoy them more if they were," she replied quietly, trying to keep a straight face as she took up a spoonful of stew. She would have reached over and helped him wipe the stew from his face, but that might cause them to get distracted and there was nothing less appetizing than cold stew.

"No, I cannae see myself nibbling happily if they are not attached to my moaning filly of a woman," he agreed, rolling his eyes at her flickering expression. "You're trying to make me lose my patience, I can tell."

"I am innocent," she insisted, even as she toed off a shoe and rubbed her stockinged foot against his leg, knowing how it would distract him even further.

"Pull the other one, it's got bells on," he rumbled across the table at her, stiffening in his seat as her toes began to march up his leg. His eyes narrowed playfully, but he waited until she reached his knee ... before closing his legs and trapping her foot right there with such an innocent expression, she might have been forgiven for thinking he didn't mean to.

"Pardon?" she asked, with her native Francia accent. "I do not ..." she started, breaking off with a startled squeak as her caught her foot between his knees. Had he let her foot travel a little higher, she might have succeeded in distracting him entirely from his dinner.

Bryce let himself grin at her reaction. He didn't often fight back when she was determined to tease, but he was hungry. And he had a feeling he was going to need his strength tonight - Justine seemed bound and determined to keep him up as long as she could. "Problem, lass?"

"Non," she replied, wiggling a little in her chair to try and get comfortable with her foot caught between his knees. "No problem," she insisted, turning her attention back to her dinner, even as she tried to pry her foot away from his knees.

"I'm glad tae hear it," he nodded to her, letting her wriggle her foot just enough to get comfortably before tightening the gap between his knees once again. "We'll take the bairns for their first ride tomorrow, I was thinking. What d'you say?"

"Hmm?" she asked, somewhat distractedly as she realized he wasn't going to let go of his hold on her foot without her asking him to. "You do not think they are too young yet?" she asked further, though she was probably not much older when her sat upon a horse for the first time.

"Rather have them learn not tae be afraid of the fleet wind with us to hold them, love," he pointed out. "Sooner they grow accustomed to the height and the speed, the better they'll be when their time comes." He dropped his hand beneath the table, tracing a light fingertip along the sole of her foot.

Though ticklish in places, her tension relaxed at the feel of his touch against her foot. "You should take Heather," she suggested, as their daughter was the one who was more inclined to wiggle. She breathed a soft sigh, frowning a little as she remembered how he used to rub her feet when she was with child.

"Och, you dinnae rate your ability tae keep your daughter from trying to fly?" he teased, tilting his head at her frown. "What's on your mind there, lass? 'Tis rare for a frown to mean nothing for the heather on my hills."

"I am more worried about her trying to fall," she told him, that frown softening a little with a shrug at his question. "I was only thinking about when I was with child. How tender you were with me then. How loving." It wasn't that he wasn't tender or loving with her now, but it was a different kind of tenderness than it was when she had been with child.

It was his turn to frown, worry creasing his face as he considered her. "Am I not any longer?" he asked. "Am I not the man you want any more, love? I didnae think I'd changed, but ..." He released her foot, tension rippling through his frame at this perceived complaint.

"Oui, mon amour. Of course, you are," she assured him quickly, slipping her foot out from between his knees and reaching over to reassure him with a gentle caress of his cheek. "It is only that I am wishing to have another baby, but I know we agreed to wait," she tried to explain, though it was difficult for a woman to explain to a man what it felt like to be pregnant and how loved it made her feel.

Bryce was not the quickest on the uptake, especially not when his pride and feelings had been pricked. "Why would you wish another bairn with a man who doesnae make you feel loved?" he asked, subdued in the face of what he deemed a failing of his own. If she didn't feel loved now, was she asking for a child to replace what he was failing to give her?

Justine's expression fell into a deeper frown, as she realized he'd misunderstood her meaning and she'd hurt his feelings. "Is that what you think, mon amour?" she asked. Why would she even call him by that pet name if she did feel loved by him?

His frown did not lessen at the sound of that endearment; his own mother had given his father endearments every day of her life, yet she had never truly loved him. "Am I not supposed to?" he asked, making a true effort not to be angry. He just wanted to understand. "You say I do not not give you tender and loving any longer, and ask instead for a new bairn to love. I dinnae understand where I went wrong."

She sighed, angry with herself for needlessly and unintentionally upsetting him. "I am sorry, love. I did not say the right words and I have upset you," she told him, looking contrite. She got up from her chair and moved over to where he sat before depositing herself in his lap, her arms around his neck. How could he think she didn't feel loved when she felt absolutely loved every day of her life? "I did not say you are not tender and loving." Or at least, that's not quite what she'd meant. "It is just a feeling a woman has when a child is inside her. I miss it sometimes. The way you ..." She gestured with her hand in a stroking motion. "How do you say? Caressed my ... here," she said, taking his hand and pressing it against the flat of her stomach - the place that would swell when she was with child.
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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 32
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gathering her onto his lap, Bryce tried to follow her reasoning, to set his pride aside and just listen without being offended. "Justine, you're as precious to me with or without a bairn in your belly," he told her, still struggling in his own way. "If I dinnae show you, you should have said something. I never wish to make you feel any less than loved."

"You show me every day," she assured him, lifting a hand to stroke his cheek. "I am worried about this battle with Coimbra. What will I do if something happens to you?" She didn't mean to change the subject, but to her, it was all part and parcel of the same thing.

"There willnae be a battle," he promised her. "Love, I've lived on the border all my life. There's things that happen before a battle that are not happening here. The heretics have troubles within their own borders, too many to notice that the world is watching them. I send you away for my own peace of mind, not as a punishment or because I dinnae love you."

"Oui, this I know, but can a wife not worry for her husband?" she asked. "I love you, Bryce. More than words can say, and ..." She trailed off a moment as her eyes got misty again. "Make love to me, mon amour. S'il vous plait," she added, for good measure.

"Och, love ..." Pushing his hurt aside, despite his lack of understanding, he drew his fingers through her hair, guiding her brow to his. "You need never beg for my love, bonny," he promised her, breath ghosting to her lips tenderly. "It's always here, just for you."

Sliding her arms around his neck, her fingers toyed with his hair, as she leaned her brow against his. "There are no words to say how much I love you, mon amour," she said, touching a tender kiss to his lips. "Do you not miss my touch sometimes?" she asked, curiously.

"Och, love, I've not been without your touch for more than a few weeks, and even then you slept in my arms," he reminded her fondly, though his brow was knitted once again. "Justine ... am I truly so neglectful of you?"

"Non," she replied, her own brow knitting. Would it be so bad if we had another child?" she asked, coming more to the crux of the problem. They'd been careful for the last eighteen months or so, since the twins had been born, but she was growing tired of being careful. "Should we not be happy if the Goddess blesses us with another child?"

"I ne'er said it would be, but we talked on this, love," he pointed out to her, holding her gaze a little sternly. "Two years 'twixt bairns, at the very least, and our first try brought two into the world. I will not risk your health by keeping you pregnant, nor will I allow the children we have to struggle among many others. What is this about, Justine? Are you so anxious for another child, truly? Or are you letting your fear of what might not happen cloud your mind?"

"Oui, I know," she replied with a soft sigh, looking a little chastened by his reminder that they'd decided together to wait to have another child. "I do not know, Bryce. I am so afraid something will happen to you, and I just could not bear it," she said, pressing her face into his shoulder and hugging him close.

"Love ..." He held her close for a long moment. "A new bairn would not fill the hole in your heart. T'would take you away from the little ones who'd need you if such a thing were to happen." He gently drew her back, cupping her face in his warm hand. "I swear to you, I'll fight my hardest if it comes to it that you never have to feel that loss. But I'll not make a child with you for such reasons. The weight would be too much for you to bear."

There were tears in her eyes, but not because he was telling her they needed to wait a little longer to have another child. No, it was fear that was causing her to feel this way. She had lost so much already. She had almost lost her brother. She simply couldn't bear to lose him, too. "You will come back to me," she said, sniffling, as she met his gaze. "You have to."

"Aye, I will." He nodded, confident in that. He did not believe there would be fighting here at the border when the order came for Francia to march into Coimbra in support of the rebels. "Try not to worry so, love. It'll come good."

"I will try, but I cannot promise," she told him. How could she promise not to worry when she loved him so, and he was going into harm's way? This was just something she was going to have to learn to live with as his wife. "We will have peace after, oui?" she asked, hopefully.

"Aye, we will," Bryce assured her. "With a true king on that throne, there'll be no power for heretics in the west of the lands. They'll be caught in Lotharingia, and good riddance to them."

"And then, we can have more babies," she said, with a small smile on her face. It wasn't that she was single-minded, but even if they weren't blessed with another child right away, it would be fun to try.

"Aye." Bryce laughed at her dogged return to the subject at hand. "And raise them in peace, without fear. So go and take your potion, lass, before we practice to make sure we know how it's done."

"I do not think you need practice, husband," she teased him, turning to face him so that her legs straddled his hips and she could press her body snugly against his.

He snorted with laughter at her persistence. "Potion," he reminded her. He wasn't not going to risk leaving her pregnant, in case the worst should come to pass, and she knew it. He also knew she hadn't taken the potion that morning when she usually would.

"Tres bien," she replied with a sigh, feigning annoyance and muttering something in her native language beneath her breath as she slid off his lap and to her feet. She was not the kind of woman who would trick him into giving her a child. She would just have to be patient and wait for his return.

Bryce chuckled, patting her backside as she slid from his lap. "I know, I'm a dreadful man," he agreed, rising himself to slide the coat from his shoulders and pour fresh wine for them both. "Why'd you put up with me?"

"Perhaps because I like what is under your skirt?" she said, though it was not really a question so much as her teasing him again. It seemed the worried, tearful mood had passed, at least for now. It had not so much been a feeling of being unloved, perhaps, as it was the fear of being left alone that had been troubling her.

He growled, rolling his eyes in amusement. "It's nae a skirt," he reminded her with a low rumble of laughter. "It's a kilt. Men dinnae wear skirts, woman."

"It is a short skirt," she corrected, as women did not usually wear skirts that reached above the ankle. Whatever he wanted to call it, it was still a skirt to her.

"It's a kilt, and you know it," he corrected her back again, pinching her bottom in retaliation for the tease. "Do you not like my knees now, bonny? You liked them well enough a year ago. Always blushing at the sight of them, you were."

She squeaked at the pinch, batting his hand away. "I like your knees well enough, husband," she affirmed, "but there is another part of you I like better," she added with a teasing smirk and a ruffle of his hair before stepping away from him so that she could take the dreaded potion.

"It's that dimple on my backside, isn't it?" he asked in a teasing tone of his own, knowing perfectly well what she was referring to. It was just too much fun to pretend to be utterly dense when she was trying to be seductive. Didn't she know that just breathing was enough to entice him to her?

She giggled at his question, both of them knowing the truth of it. "You know it is not, silly man," she said, as she measured and poured out the prescribed amount of potion. So far, it seemed to be working to prevent pregnancy, but she did not relish the taste of it.

"The scar on my ribs?" he suggested then, grinning over the rim of his cup as he offered her the second cup of wine to wash that taste away. "Och, no, it's that mole on my right ankle, isn't it?"

It tasted so bad, she pinched her nose closed as she tossed back that shot of potion, worse than any draught she'd ever tasted in her entire life. She shuddered and made a face once it was down and reached for the cup of wine to wash away the taste of it. "When this is all over, I am never drinking that again," she warned him as she set the cup down and returned to straddle his lap. Only this time, she hiked her skirts and waited for him to do the same.

"We'll find you something sweeter to take so's you're not burdened too often," he promised, making a mental note to talk to his sister about it. Juliana had to know of a better tasting concoction than the one Justine had to take almost every day. He laughed as she hitched her skirts expectantly, catching her about the waist to gently toss her down onto the bed. "Start where we mean to finish, lass," he murmured wickedly, drawing his callused fingers up along her thigh to palm the soft curve of her rear as he leaned over her to claim a kiss.
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Bryce Darroch
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 32
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Can Be Found: Darroch Keep, Dunfayre
2310.64 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She squeaked with delight as he picked her up and tossed her onto the bed, and would have replied had he not cut her off with a kiss. She threw her arms around his neck to hug him close, deepening his kiss with ardent enthusiasm.

Bryce chuckled into her kiss, easing over her with gentle strength. His palm stroked over her side tenderly. "Wearing too much, love," he growled into her mouth, his own grin quirking wickedly as he did so. "Much too much."

"So are you, husband," she countered, her hands moving to loosen the fastenings of his shirt. It was pretty obvious what came next. They'd had plenty of practice, after all, though Justine did not mind practicing again. It was no secret that she adored her husband and cherished every precious moment they had alone together, whether they were only talking or making love. Though he might have worried that he was not affectionate enough, it was moments like these when she felt most loved.

And with that worry foremost in his mind, she would feel more loved than ever tonight, his every thought for her pleasure, her comfort, her need. He refused to have a wife who thought he did not love her, who needed children to soothe her aching heart. He'd prove just how much he loved his Justine, or die trying.

If she knew that, she would have assured him that the latter was entirely unnecessary. She loved him just the way he was and would not change a thing, except to spare him the dangers of war and keep him safely beside her always.

But peace was coming. It would be a hard won sort of peace, but fought for by the people who deserved it most, the ordinary Coimbrans who had lived for too long in the shadow of heretics. If the Goddess willed it, that fight would be won far from here, and Her peace would last this time, long after their lives were lived.
Death borders upon our birth, and our cradle stands in the grave.
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