"The World Remade"
Not every woman had a maternal instinct. It was madness to hand a baby to a warrior and expect that warrior to suddenly know everything about nappies and how to differentiate the baby's cries and how often the child needed to eat.
Still, Sorsha tried. Elora was a comely child, the rightful heir of Tir Asleen, and the apple of Madmartigan's eye. She'd caught him cooing at "Sticks" just that morning, dangling some blackroot above the cradle and whispering about what a treat he had for her. Sorsha had no idea whether a baby could even digest blackroot, but between Madmartigan and Fin Raziel and the army of nursemaids, surely someone knew.
She just wasn't the nurturing type. She could best help by staying fit and strong, ensuring that she was capable of taking down any threats to the future Empress of Tir Asleen.
"Husband," she said, nudging the oaf who seemed to grow extra limbs once they were abed, the better to wrap himself around her.
"Wife," he breathed, dragging his tongue up her throat while his hands delved under the thin silk of her sleeping gown.
Well. A marital duty was still a duty, so she succumbed to the touch of his rough fingers and even did some stroking of her own. His mouth was like a plump fruit hovering just above hers until she stretched her neck to bite it. He'd worn nothing at all to their bed, shameless man, and so her hands found only warm skin and tangled hair.
He tugged at her gown, pulling it entirely free while distracting her with kisses dropped at random on her bared skin. She wondered idly how often he'd been locked up for this rather than wielding his sword. The scent of him, growing as he labored, thrusts increasing in vigor, was intoxicating to her. She raised her arms above her head and twined her fingers in the furs on which they slept, lengthening her body so that she could feel him pressed against every inch of her.
She lost her head, but it was for the best that he kept his, else he might have got a baby upon her; he dragged himself out of the greedy clutch of her body to spend himself on her belly.
"You are my sun," he panted - a smacking kiss against the fullness of one breast - "my moon" - a rough lick against her other nipple - "and this looks like my starlit sky," he said, dragging a finger through the white streaking her skin before finishing her off with that same dexterous hand.
Already she'd lain abed for far too long; she was used to rising before the dawn to train. She rousted her husband once she was sure of her jelly-like limbs and put off his coaxing kisses.
She tied her hair back and dressed in the tunic and trousers she liked under her armor. Her body knew the drills, and the discipline of going through all of the motions - unarmed, then with sword, then with axe, then with pike - relaxed her. This was what she was meant to do.
Madmartigan had gone straight for his sword, and she saw that he wielded it like it was part of his own body, that it responded to him like it shared the same blood.
"Spar with me," she said, and it wasn't an invitation or request.
"Who do you fight, my warrior?" he asked in the same tone of voice.
How could she answer that, when all she knew was how to be a weapon herself? "Everybody," she said finally, eyes fixed to his chest to catch the movement of muscles that would tell her where his sword would strike.
She still wasn't used to fighting without an army at her back, but she forced herself to adjust, parrying his blows. She saw her opportunity, lunged, and rolled, bringing the tip of her sword up to kiss her husband's throat. "You're not fighting properly," she said, frustrated. "Do you want me to rust?"
"Sorsha," he said, winding his arms around her, "I -"
She yanked herself free. "Fight as if you still hated me."
"I cannot, wife," he said, his voice that low rumble that she'd only ever heard when their bodies were joined in a more ecstatic dance. The arousal that spiked in her jarred her, angered her. She turned on her heel, ready to fetch her bow and quiver for target practice.
"You do not have to fight alone," he called as she strode away. She checked herself but did not turn back. "We have no enemies left."
How could he say that, when it had been her mother - when she had been ordered to kill him to keep her mother in the seat of power? How could he say so simply that they were a "we"?
She shrugged off his pretty speech and filled her empty hands with weapons.
She had been her mother's only heir, so it made sense that the administration of Tir Asleen fell to her, rather than to her husband, who had prided himself on his itinerant ways. She spent a long morning organizing and paying the workers, though she noticed Madmartigan bore Elora on his hip as ably as any washerwoman and kept the baby in her line of sight at all times.
Elora was quieter than she'd thought babies were wont to be, seeming content to study Madmartigan's face and bring his calloused hands to her small rosebud of a mouth. Sorsha felt a pang at that, but tamped it down firmly and turned back to her work.
A female voice - not Bavmorda's, and that was startling all on its own - came to her ear then. "Sorsha," it said firmly, "you are wise to keep vigilant, though your enemies have been vanquished."
"Fin Raziel," she said, nearly pleading, "what shall come next?"
The sorceress smiled. "Many years of peace, and many children shall bless your name."
"My children?" she asked, faltering. She could not - she had sworn to live and die by the sword.
"You are warrior and woman," Raziel said, "and Elora counts herself yours." Sorsha's eyes cut to Madmartigan, beaming down at the child, who was gazing serenely back at him. "He is hers, you are one flesh with him, and she is yours. Do you not yet understand?" Raziel's voice grew impatient.
"I do," Sorsha said, though the ground was still settling beneath her feet.
"Husband," she said, as if it were a magic spell; she persisted in her foolishness because he responded every time.
"Wife," he answered, cradling her head and kissing her nearly senseless as she tried to undress him.
She bore him down to the furs, marveling at the heat of his body; his hips warmed the tender insides of her thighs, and his mouth nearly burned her breasts. She rocked forward, clasped his hands, and sank down onto him. The callouses on their hands caught against each other, and the molten length of him stirred her up deliciously. She could feel her eyes closing, could feel the rhythm of his thrusts speeding up, and she squeezed with all of her might when he tried to pull out before coming to his glory, as he had always done before.
"The future is ours. We have fought for it," she said, throwing her head back and riding the cresting wave of her pleasure. "We remade the world," she cried, gasping when he spent himself inside her.
"And yet you are still my sun and my moon and my starlit sky," he said, chasing the ripples of delight up her body with an amorous mouth.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/437812.html.