Friday, May 30, 2014

A Dark Rider (pt. 2)

The evening had grown into deep night. The 'modest' gathering that Hilde and Gunther presided over for the sake of raising positive publicity for Avalon and funds for Hilde's latest pet project was a success. It was something that Hilde should have been grateful for, but her mood was soured by the fact that she had forgotten her wedding anniversary and Gunther's dramatics earlier. Sitting together in the big black humvee with a horse trailer with the Clydesdale named Horatio behind and their entourage making up most of the traffic about them at the late hour, Hilde glared out at the cold moonlit countryside as they made their way back to the farm.

"You're quiet," Gunther said, knowing that Hilde was probably contemplating gelding him for his choice of dramatic entrance.

"It wasn't necessary," Hilde spat peevishly. Gunther smiled. In the dull glow of the dashboard lights, his expression seemed ominous in the reflection that she saw off the window. "The last thing we need is for there to be people talking about how we're creating a scene and making..." she started when Gunther interrupted her.

"You're beautiful when you're angry," he said fondly, "You always have been." Hilde shut her mouth and scoffed, turning her gaze back out the passenger window. As much as she hated to admit it, she was flattered by the excessively romantic gesture and the way Gunther made a point through out the evening to do little things that were vestiges of romantic gestures from the first lifetime they lived together. His insistence upon sharing the same plate and glass as her drew a few small whispers. At one point one of the others sitting at the table asked and Gunther explained pleasantly as Hilde was distracted by Walker's introduction of another NYC socialite who was interested in getting some of the drama of Avalon behind his business. He was fairly certain that the social pages the next day would speak of the 'quaint romance' between his wife and himself.

It was clear to those who watched them that Hilde was the center of Gunther's universe and that Gunther was the center of Hilde's. Lifetimes of knowledge of the other's moods and attitudes lead to the couple acting as one more often then not. Gunther knew that his very public displays of affection  irritated Hilde. If she had things her way, their romance would have been quiet as the grave and none but their closest companions would know of it.

Gunther suspected there was some deeper meaning to Hilde's discomfort with attention. He glanced over at her and read the way her body set in her seat. He could see the anger in the set of her jaw, the embarrassment in the color on her cheeks, and pain in how she unconsciously wrapped her left arm about herself. Defensiveness was the closest he could describe her demeanor beneath the anger. Gunther turned his attention back to the road. He broke the silence that had built up between them with a quiet observation, "It's not me you're angry with."

Out the corner of his eye, he saw Hilde stiffen and look over at him suddenly. He didn't need to look to know that her expression would be one of surprise. He suspected that there was more to the story of Brynhildr in this lifetime then Hilde was willing to admit. Gunther, however, decided it was time for the shadows to be cast out of his wife's eyes. He willed himself to stillness and silence, though he wanted to ask her a thousand questions.

Very quietly, Hilde said, "No." Gunther nodded. As the sign for their exit grew larger before them, the radio crackled to life. One of their convoy reported that one of the eager photographers was still following them. It was not a surprise. Gunther knew as soon as he saw the young man's face at the edge of the crowd as he rode past that he was going to be hounded. Gunther reached for the radio when Hilde's hand settled lightly on his thigh.

"Just drive," she said very quietly. Gunther nodded. They took their exit and he set his hand over her's. "I was fourteen," she continued in that terribly quiet tone, "he was eighteen. He loved to make a show of how much he loved me." Gunther went deathly quiet and still. He has suspicions but he didn't voice them. "Mom didn't approve of him," Hilde sighed, "but everyone at school said that we were the perfect pair. I ... I did my best to not let anyone know. I guess I was too good at it."

"What did he do?" Gunther said, unable to keep the anger from warming his tone. Hilde moved to pull her hand away from him but Gunther tightened his upon hers, holding it still. Hilde looked out the window and didn't speak for a long moment.

"The question is what didn't he do," she said so quietly that it was almost lost in the road noise. Gunther nodded and let out a slow breath. "I tried to stop him," she whispered, "He... He was stronger then me. He said he was going to tell the whole school how I was a whore. He said he'd kill my family." Hilde's voice cracked and she gave a small choked sob.

"Did you tell anyone?" Gunther asked. He didn't need to look to know that Hilde had shaken her head. "Not even Tom?" he said softly. Hilde quietly began to weep. Gunther gripped the steering wheel with both hands, careful not to close his hands too tight. The desire to track down this nameless person and kill them was so strong that he could nearly taste blood. "Have you been punishing yourself?" Gunther asked after Hilde's tears subsided. "Is what we do your ... atonement?" he said, carefully choosing his words.

The radio crackled to life again and Gunther ignored it. He was more interested in knowing if their foray into the darker side of pleasure was moved by anything other then bliss. "No," Hilde said, suddenly sounding terribly distressed and Gunther's heart nearly broke to be the cause of it, "A thousand times, no. You make me feel safe. It makes me feel safe." Gunther nodded slightly.

"And now?" he asked, "Do you feel safe now, Brynhildr?" He could feel how she trembled in the hand that lay upon his right thigh and nearly smell the anxiety wafting off of her. Hilde thought about lying but chose silence. She turned her gaze back out the window. "I see," Gunther said. They turned down the road to the farm. Behind them, Horatio pawed at his trailer and shook his head. "Steady boy," Gunther muttered, sounding a little less solemn and more like his usual dark humored self, "Keep it up and you'll wear a hole in the steel."

Gunther picked up the radio as he turned up the drive into the wood to the longhouse. "Block the lane," he said, his tone flat. The subordinates who heard this questioned what had soured his mood but the last two vehicles of the caravan stopped at the end of the lane. Their over eager pursuer swore and drove on. After turning around and discovering that the vehicles at the end of the drive weren't moving, the frustrated man left. Away at the longhouse, Gunther parked the vehicle and walked around to Hilde's side. He ignored their men as they tended to Horatio.

Gunther opened the door and saw Hilde sitting there on the verge of tears. He said nothing but stepped up beside her. He leaned into the humvee and snarled his hands into Hilde's hair. He pulled her roughly towards him as she gave a small yelp of surprise. His mouth closed over hers with crushing force. Tears wet on her cheek that smelled of sugar maple sap, Hilde closed her eyes and shivered. She expected Gunther to gentle the kiss after a moment but he didn't. He gave a low growl when he finally broke the kiss, his anger quickly transmuting into arousal.

"You are mine, Brynhildr," he said. In any other situation, that low, fierce statement would have made her knees weak and her cheeks burn. Instead, she simply wanted to cry. As her lower lip quavered, Gunther nearly dragged her from the vehicle into another kiss. Hilde put her hands flat against his chest. Suddenly, she found the fact that he was still wearing armor comforting. It was a visceral reminder that he had the capacity to kill any who would try to harm her. Gunther broke the kiss and then stooped slightly. Before Hilde realized it, he had swept her up into his arms.

A few knowing smirks then turned to confusion when the night watch saw the distress in Hilde's eyes. One opened the door for them, starting to open his mouth to ask when Gunther growled, "See to it that we are not disturbed." Hilde hid her face against his shoulder when she realized that at least one of their men had seen her in her weakness. Gunther strode the length of the dark hall, navigating about the cots of those who were sleeping there easily. He set Hilde on her feet briefly to open the door into their apartment. Gunther then pulled her in after himself.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fanfic: Loki

He walked about the woman from Midgard. He wasn't sure how she had arrived here and it seemed that she was equally unsure. Loki was bored of Asgard but restrictions that had been placed on him kept him confined to a few chambers, despite his considerable efforts. Now, he had company. As he looked the painfully average looking woman over, his clever mind considered the prospect that it was perhaps some form of magic that had brought her here.

"You should not be here," he said, finally breaking the uneasy silence. The woman's cat green eyes moved from object to object in the room, clearly attempting to ascertain if there was some means of escape. Her dark hair was piled up on the top of her head in a hasty washerwoman's knot. A few strands had escaped to lay along her neck where a fine silver chain lay. The item at the end of the chain was hidden beneath the neckline of her terribly plain bright pink t-shirt. Curious as to if the secret to her arrival and his possible escape lay in the pendant, Loki reached an elegant finger towards her, intending to hook the chain and lift the object of inquiry from hiding.

His motion towards her jolted her into motion and she stepped back, bringing her hands up in a defensive gesture. Loki gave a sudden grin, amused by her defiant action. "Don't touch me," she hissed. Loki shook his finger and put on a mock expression of disapproval.

"You mortals should know better then to taunt..." he started taking a step towards her when she did something unexpected. Rather then retreating back a step, she moved forward and delivered a sharp uppercut to his jaw as she moved to take one of his knives from the sheath. Blood welled from where his lower lip had been cut by a tooth, but the Asgardian paid it no mind as he summoned his magic to drive the woman back away from him.

The woman bared her teeth in a small snarl as she fought against a wind that only touched her that pushed her back. Loki's eyes narrowed slightly as he realized that his magic was not working as it should have. Rather then tumbling back from a sudden bolt of force, the woman moved back step by step, somehow resisting his magic. Loki concentrated and the woman stumbled back several paces. Once out of arm's reach, Loki let the spell go from his mind.

The pendant that had been hidden by her blouse had fallen out of it's hiding place and gleamed. A tiny, intricately carved silver image of leaves fashioning a face that Loki recognized shone on her breast. "Did he send you?" Loki asked, unable to keep the loathing out of his voice. Loki had no love for the lord of Alfheim, even though he was technically his adoptive grandfather. Freyr had been a vague presence in Loki's youth that was always stern and quick to pin Loki's ears back when he caught Loki's sharp tongue letting into Thor or, even worse, caught Loki in a lie.

"I don't even know how I came to be here, let alone where in Hel, I am," the woman spat, "For all I know, YOU brought me here." Loki laughed. His amusement made the woman before him almost visibly seethe with frustration. This only made the situation even funnier to the trapped deity. Loki turned and walked over to a chair and sat down, taking a goblet in hand. He applied a bit of magic and fashioned a second one. Casually, he poured from the jug sitting on the table into both goblets.

"Allow me to bid you welcome," he said, placing the magically produced goblet on the corner of the table closest to the woman glaring at him suspiciously, "This is my humble abode and prison here in Asgard. You are a very long way from home." The woman mouthed the word 'Asgard' and then abruptly looked away from Loki. She looked about herself clearly troubled. She pinched herself viciously on her right arm. Loki leaned back in the chair and watched with amusement.

"You truly don't know how you came to be here, do you?" he said mildly, his voice bubbling with laughter. "What manner of sorcery do you perform?" he said conversationally, "As you were clearly using something earlier."

"That's for me to know... ," the woman answered and Loki interrupted her with a laugh.

"So defensive, I would think my reputation has turned to far fame on Midgard," he said, fixing her with an intent look. A cruel little smile curved his lips. "I could compel you to tell me," he said slowly, "You are not strong enough to resist me."

The woman's head jerked back slightly as she took a sudden breath in. A faint touch of color was painted on her cheeks, despite the fact that she paled at his initial statement. Loki set his chin on his left hand and regarded her. For all of his unexpected guest's efforts to appear brave, he could tell that there was a deep vein of fear running through her. "I don't need you to answer my questions," Loki said, looking at her, his smile deepening as a thought ran through his mind.

"Good, because I don't have any answers," she snapped. At her feisty reply, Loki leaned towards her. Something ominous lurked in his gaze as his eyes bled from green to a blood red color and the ambient temperature of the room dropped a few degrees. The woman took a step back and nearly tripped over a chair that had fallen over when Loki bolted to his feet at her sudden appearance in the middle of the room.

Loki stood taking the cup he set on the corner of the table and slowly approached her. As he did so, the room grew colder and a wash of goosebumps stood out on the woman's arms. She worked hard to master her fear but it was there and growing. Watching how she struggled with herself, Loki realized he was enjoying the situation far more then he had anticipated.

He held out the cup towards her, a faint sheen of ice beginning to form over the surface of the liquid and frost spreading over the outside from where his hand was in contact with it. "Drink with me, little mortal," he said, unable to keep the dark amusement of his tone, "Entertain me." Despite the cold and her fear, the woman did not move back as he had expected. Loki had surely figured she would shy away from how he had become a living heatsink due to his jotun blood. The air surely was enough that it was difficult for her to breathe, for Loki noted that her breath now came in short gasps, with her breathing more through her nose then her mouth.

"No," she answered, her teeth chattering against the cold. Loki lifted his head slightly and gave her a calculating look. It was clear that this strange woman was from Midgard. Her manner of dress and speech made it plain. Some form of magic seemed to run in her veins, though Loki couldn't determine it from the way her will pressed against his when she resisted his spell. He wasn't sure if it was madness or rare courage that spurred her to resist him. Loki strongly doubted it was stupidity.

"You have broken frith by pitting your magic against me," she said. Loki laughed.

"Ah, but it was not I who broke frith," Loki said, "But rather you when you attacked me. I offer you peace, woman."

The woman narrowed her eyes. "Peace comes with a price," she said, "especially with one such as you." Loki laughed. His appearance tended back towards that of Asgardian and the room became warmer.

"Drink with me," he said.

"What is in the water?" she answered warily, not even moving towards the cup. Loki threw back his head and laughed loudly. The idea that on Midgard his name had become so reviled that this woman suspected he would poison her for his amusement struck him as hilarious.

"It is wine," he said. He then raised the goblet to his mouth and took a swallow before holding it out to her. Seeing that he had suffered no ill effects, she hesitantly took the goblet from him. The moment her fingers touched his, she gasped as something like the feel of an electric charge ran up her arm. Her eyes widened as she stared unseeingly forward. Loki's expression turned quizzical.

Trapped within the vision, she saw herself pinned against the wall with Loki's hands in her hair. His mouth was hard against hers, something that she could almost feel an echo of on her lips. The god's presence threatened to sweep her conscious mind aside, even though what she saw was but an image of the thought that had gone through Loki's mind as he held out the cup. She gave a long, shuddering gasp as she wrestled her will back into line and pulled her hand away from his.

Loki watched as she came back to herself and then moved away from him, her eyes widening somewhat. All of her previous air of struggled control was lost. Like a cat spotting a mouse about to flee, Loki couldn't help the quickening of his blood. "You fear me," he said slowly, relishing each word and how she paled. "Tell me," he said, "what did you see?" She shook her head, moving back towards the wall and trying to make the distance between them grow and failing as he stepped forward.

He set the cup down on the corner of the desk he had been sitting at earlier. She looked at the cup and the back at him. Loki noted her nervous glance and chuckled. "Oh," he said, "that option has passed." He then snapped his fingers and the goblet vanished. The wine held the shape of the bowl of the goblet before splashing down to the table. "Tell me," he said, "what did you see?"

The woman bumped into the wall, giving a little yelp as she stumbled over her own feet. Loki crossed the distance between them in a few swift paces. He stood so close that a deep breath by either of them would have closed the distance. She looked up at him, her eyes almost blue with wild panic. In a very small voice, she said, "This."

Loki smiled. He brought his hands up and snarled them in her hair. He had to admit, the way she trembled against him was intoxicating. Loki looked deeply into her eyes. "No," he said, "I believe it was this." He leaned against her, pressing her against the wall with his full weight. As she opened her mouth to tell him to stop, his closed over it. Then, the trembling Midgardian sorceress had her breath stolen from her with an agonizingly slow kiss.

Loki realized in that moment, it wasn't mere company he had yearned for. It was this heady, intoxicating rush of power as he took this frail creature in hand and bent her to his will. For her part, the woman had all coherent thought swept away. There was only the feeling of Loki's presence, the echo of his hunger, and the quiet eerie sound of his amused chuckle ringing in her mind.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Dark Rider (pt 1)

It was a simple gesture. One that was rooted in antiquity though most of the assembled didn't appreciate it. They merely passed it off as Hilde's odd ways. The party was small and intimate, for it's nature. People dressed in their finery milled about and chatted. The wealthy and the glitterati did their best to rub elbows with the more personable of the other guests, many vying for the attention of the solemn Sargent. It was a publicity event aimed to raise positive feelings about Avalon's presence but more directly and closer to Hilde's interests, it was a fundraising event to provide for the children orphaned by wars around the world.

Rumors whirled about that the child that Hilde had born died and this was why none had seen her. Some said it was God's judgment. Her detractors seized upon this visible absence from all of Hilde's public appearances, even the most casual of them, as proof that Avalon was a danger and even their own were not immune to divine wrath. Others suggested that it was perhaps grief for her lost son. As she greeted her guests and gave them a cup of wine, she could see they yearned to ask her what became of that child she had grown so great with but two years before.

As the drink flowed and Hilde waited for the last of her guests to arrive, she came to three conclusions. High heeled shoes were torture devices invented by a sadist of the highest caliber. Her second conclusion was that people were more interested in primping and gossiping then getting down to business. And thirdly, Gunther had the better arrangement of being off of some nameless task. For all she knew, he could be mucking out the stables on the farm. She was fairly certain that she would have preferred dealing with horse apples to the stuffy company she was enduring.

Their false smiles and trilling patter grated on her. She wanted to scream at them for being so caught up in pretenses. Instead, she did her best to put on her least threatening expression. What she managed was solemn, though she was trying for banal but pleasant. Outside, the rain fell in sheets. It didn't seem to stop the paparazzi from snapping pictures away and gawking at the last of her guests as they made their way from their shiny black vehicles, past the dark suited security (men from her farm who had been trained by her and Gunther enough to be declared adequate by Avalonian standards), and into the ballroom where it happened many years ago that Hilde attended her senior prom.

Now, she looked briefly past the heads of last people to emerge from the thirteenth vehicle. At the back of her mind, a vague recollection that thirteen was considered an unlucky number as the stretched limo pulled away. Her evening gown was a fanciful thing of soy-silk dyed in shades of green fashioned to look like a designer's minimalist version of the gown that Hilde had been seen once wearing at an official Avalonian function that the public was allowed to view. The greens of the gown highlighted the subtle sheen of green that colored her skin. With her advance in rank and prowess with the magics of plants, Hilde seemed to grow to resemble the humanized version of her beloved plants.

Skin that had previously been pink with life now had the pale, pale green of calla lilies. Hair that had been chestnut colored now resembled willow withies, though it still fell almost like silk. Some remarked upon seeing her in the flesh for the first time that it was strange how her apperance could be so changed and yet she looked to be the picture of health. Hilde took the last of the crystalline looking cups of wine and offered it to a portly man who wheezed as he walked up in his a size too tight tuxedo. Hilde's expression moved from solemn to one of mild concern. "Mister Walker," she said quietly, "I offer you welcome. Are you well?"

Walker, a substantially wealthy art dealer from NYC waved a hand in a habitual gesture of denial. "I am healthy as an ox. It is this humid weather troubling me," he said as he took the cup from her. Hilde looked him over briefly from head to toe. She knew with the sudden, deep knowledge that only Avalon's gifts could give her, that Walker was dangerously ill and hiding it for some reason. Her tone of voice even quieter, she leaned towards Walker and muttered something in his ear. His eyes widened slightly. "It's true, then," he said, "You can tell."

"With out aid, six months," she said solemnly. Walker nodded, looking over to notice a young redheaded woman walking over with a genuine drinking horn in her hands. His eyes widened slightly. The gold filligery about the banding shone in the lights as Hilde turned to take it from the page who had been assigned to assist her personally this evening. Walker tore his eyes away from the fine worksmanship of the drinking vessel to regard the level gaze of the knight holding it.

"What would you want?" he asked, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to cough into it. At his suspicious inquiry, Hilde's expression dropped slightly and a suggestion of true sorrow flickered through her gaze before she resumed her solemn mask. "We can speak of it later," Walker said, "Tonight is about the children." Hilde gave him the barest of smiles. It was touching that a dying man sought to comfort her.

"All I would ask is for your friendship, Mister Walker," she said. Walker smirked and then coughed hard.

"Friendship is a high price," he said wheezily.

"It is cheaper then a man's life," Hilde said gently, "And the world would be a darker place with out that man's life. He is a benefactor of many, long before I Awakened and learned of him." Walker smiled. "The scholarship that put me through nursing school was funded by yourself, Mister Walker," she continued, "I..."

Hilde's next words were cut off by the sound of a thunderous rapping at the double doors. Hilde's attention snapped from her guests to the doors. The page at her side swallowed dryly. This was not part of Hilde's planned evening. "Get behind me," Hilde said quietly. She stepped towards the doors as that rapping came three more times, as though someone was beating on the doors with a tree limb. Her mind raced forward through possible defensive actions and questioning why her men hadn't taken action.

As Hilde walked towards the doors, her skin prickled with unease. Then the doors swung open, as though unseen hands had moved to do so for the tall man mounted on the armor clad Clydesdale. His dark brown hood was pulled down low over his face as he urged his horse forward at a walk. While this stranger had no obvious weapons, Hilde was not as much the fool to think him defenseless. A properly trained war horse, regardless of breed, was a dangerous thing. The man's use of knightly gifts told her that he was either of Avalon or a heritic. She realized that she couldn't see if her men were well or not but the cameras of the paparazzi flickered like an epileptic's worst nightmare.

The glare of the lights made it hard for her to make out the man's features. His dress spoke of Avalon, though it gave no sign of his House. Heavy leather gloves covered his hands as he dropped the reins. "Dame of Peacehaven," spoke a voice that Hilde recognized. Her eyes widened and she nearly dropped the horn in her left hand. "I have come for thee."

She stepped closer and took the bridle of the horse in her right hand. "Gunnar," she hissed, "stop this." In the shadows of his hood, Hilde could see a familiar, cruel smile. She shook her head slightly, a gesture that was almost imperceptible. The rider reached his right hand down towards her face as she looked up at him. Cameras snapped away as Hilde's guests watched the minor drama unfolding with curiosity.

"Have you no cup of welcome for a thirsty traveler, Brynhildr?" he said, "I have come many a mile in foul weather to be here." Torn between the urge to shriek at him for this entirely unnecessary business and embaressment for the predicament she was in, Hilde glared up at him. While her expression was mild, her eyes flashed with seething fury. She held up the drinking horn.

Behind her the soft buzz of conversation stopped as people watched, curious if the mysterious rider would take the cup. He took the cup and put it to his lips. As the wine flowed, the Knight upon the horse changed its essence to that of whiskey. He then held the horn out to her. "Share but a drop with me, Dame." Hilde nearly audibly ground her teeth. As she took the horn back, he leaned forward and said in a quiet voice, "Orders."

Instead of scowling as she wished to, Hilde raised the cup to her mouth and took a long drink. The whiskey burned down her throat with a faint suggestion of honey mingled with it. Before she could say anything, the rider dismounted, ignoring the way the rain blew in behind him, though he appreciated how the damp night air made the silken cloth smooth against Hilde's curves. "A gift of my ... kinsman," he said, stepping aside and gesturing towards the horse.

"He is generous," she said, "may the gods bless him for it." The man whom she named Gunnar smirked, knowing which god she had in mind and the irony of that deity being chosen. He walked up close to her and she realized that beneath his heavy cloak, he wore elaborately tooled leather armor with the insignia of their house upon the breastplate. "This is too much, why here? Why now?" she hissed at him.

Gunnar, or as he was known in this life, Gunther, laughed. "Have you forgotten what this day is?" he said, his eyes dancing with delight. Hilde frowned slightly, thinking for a moment. Then her eyes widened and her cheeks turned a deeper shade of green. The blush worked its way down from her scalp along the column of her neck to fan out across her chest. He took her left hand and pressed his lips to her wedding ring. Gunther then pulled her into his arms, the hood of his cloak falling back to reveal his identity moments before he kissed her.

Instead of resisting him, Hilde nearly fell into his arms with the force of his embrace. The drinking horn fell from her fingers and splashed its contents on the ground. Hilde's guests looked between themselves and those who had a more personal relationship with Hilde and Gunther began to applaud. Soon, that caught on and Gunther laughed as he broke the kiss. "Happy anniversary," he said, smiling down at her. A devilish light lit his eyes as he watched his wife struggle between happiness and embarrassment. He lifted a hand and pushed a lock of hair out of her eyes. "I told you that you had been working too hard," he chided gently.

Hilde ducked her gaze before the horse beside them tentatively nudged her head with his muzzle. "His name is Horatio," Gunther said quietly in her ear, "your uncle sends him." At the mention of Marion, Hilde's eyes went wide. "I was to bring him to you in a memoriable manner," he explained as the page came over and picked up the horn. The young woman looked up at Gunther and he nodded slightly.

Moments later, she returned with a refilled horn. Gunther looked over at one of their men. He gave a small smile as the grinning man lead the battle trained horse away. Another, who was supposed to be on break but apparently decided the fun was too inviting came over to take Gunther's cloak. The sight of him dressed in full armor, even though it was but leather, was striking. Unlike Hilde, who was unarmed, Gunther wore a wicked looking seax at the small of his back. A few voices murmured as Gunther took Hilde by the hand and walked with her through the ballroom towards where a dias had been setup. A microphone was before a podium at the far right hand side of the dias but Gunther ignored it.

Applying his command of Royal essence, Gunther's voice carried through out the room and a few of the onlookers outside caught the beginning of his words as the doors were shut, "We have gathered this auspicious day to celebrate children...." As Gunther literally stole Hilde's opening speech from her lips, she realized that he had obviously been planning this for at least as long as she had been planning the benefit gathering. Again she was amazed at the conniving skill of the former Morganite and couldn't help but wonder what other surprises he had in mind for the night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Under his gaze.

He curled a lock of my hair about his index finger and tugged lightly. I looked up at him, wincing at the sudden ray of light that shone down in my eyes as a breeze blew the leaves of the bush aside. "You worry too much, my dear," he said softly, "Where other's have laugh lines, you have lines of anxiety." I blinked at him, uncertain if I should be insulted or not.

His bare chest was warm against my cheek despite the coolness of the breeze blowing through the spring afternoon. "I think it will rain soon," I said in a lame attempt to change the topic. His eyebrows rose slightly and he turned his peridot green eyes from the bit of hair curled about his finger to my face. The sunlight seemed to glow in his hair where it fell in dappled pools from the leaves over head. I wondered what again was the reason why we were snuggled up beneath the eves of a shockingly large bush.

I wondered why it was that he insisted that I be dressed in the finery that he gave me and he looked as though he was ready to go help his men plant fields. At the thought of planting fields, I could feel my cheeks start to grow warm. The night before he had insisted that we steal away to bless them. I didn't think much of it until he started taking off his clothes when we reached the ploughed earth. One does not argue with fertility deities, especially when they consider you a fitting person to assist them in their ... duties.

That field was a short ways away from where we were laying. When the wind freshened and blew from the west, I could smell the fresh turned earth. The scent mingled with the smell of sap and musk that always seemed to surround him. It was a dizzying thing to breathe in. "Rain is good," he rumbled, dropping his hand down to his chest just before my eyes.

"We'll get soaked," I said peevishly, failing to keep my annoyance with the concept out of my voice. He laughed and tightened his hold on me with his left arm. Pressed hard against that muscular body, I couldn't help how my breath caught in my throat and the beginnings of molten heat pooled low in my body. A sudden burst of panic rolled through me and I started to attempt to move away from him. I shivered as I suddenly wondered if all of this was just my deluding myself.

His right hand slid over to cup my left cheek and slowly, irresistibly, turn my face up toward his. The strength in his arms both told me I could not flee and that I was safe from all harm in this little hidden place. His expression turned from wry amusement to something solemn. Panic rose up stronger in me even as I found myself unconsciously molding myself to the contours of his side. "You can not out run your heart, little dove," he said quietly, "Your clever mind can not out wit it either."

"I'm not trying to run away," I squeaked. His full lips made a wry smile as he gave a little, seemingly thoughtful nod, attempting to wear his most solemn expression. I gulped nervously. His thumb passed slowly over my lips. "Really," I said, sounding a little to rushed to be earnest.

"Shall I chase you?" he said, that wry smile growing slowly into a fierce grin.

I swallowed nervously. He moved his hands to just beneath my armpits. He lifted me easily and pulled me slowly against his gloriously perfect body, making me think of how he did so the night before with out such niceities of clothes in his way. The branches of the bush shifted and parted as he brought me to where I was face to face with him. I lay half over him, held scant inches from him.

I stared into his eyes, scarcely able to breathe as a firestorm of feelings lashed at me. Terror, delight, lust, and relief all warred within me and I realized much to my horror he could see this plainly on my face and in my gaze. Words failed me. No clever little remark, no sarcasm to be my armor against his attention. I had nothing to say but two little words. Those, I breathed in a small voice, "Oh dear."

Slowly, he lowered me so that I lay against him. "The hart will always ride," he said quietly.

"I didn't mean..." I started when he thrust his hands into my hair and pulled my face down to his. His kiss managed to crush the air out of my lungs even as I gave a shuddering gasp of delight. Slowly, he kissed me and filled my body with that slow heat that put languor in my limbs and made my heart pound.

He broke the kiss just as I began to see little stars behind my eyelids. He pressed his face against my right cheek. His beard rasped softly against my skin. "You have always been like the hind," he whispered, "no matter how much you would deny it. Fleet of foot and graceful, gentle and mild.Try as you may, I will not leave. The hart does not leave his hind."

At his quiet words, something within me broke and I gave a sudden sob. My cheeks burned with shame and I tried to bury my face against his shoulder. A hand tightened in my hair and he slowly lifted my head so that he might gaze into my eyes. "As wounded as you are," he said solemnly, fixing me with that intense look that managed to pin me into place every time, "I will not leave you alone. Not now, not ever. You are not alone, not any more."

I tried to look away and he pulled me down into another kiss. Where his first kiss had been slow and controlled, this was hard and burned with intensity. I could feel my lips bruising with the force of it. Somehow, I knew, this was where I was supposed to be. The panic and terror beat against my awareness but he drove them away as he deepened the kiss. Suddenly, I felt as though I was drowning in pure sunlight. The air tasted of his kiss and ripe wheat. The fight bled out of me as he held me and softened his kisses. I put my face against his chest and wept. I couldn't say why. Perhaps it was relief. Perhaps it was happiness. But his arms were strong and we were well hidden from prying eyes.