Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hilde & Gunther: Second Courtship (pt 1)

Hilde stood at her post, watching the night move over the snow laden fields of her farm. Where those who had taken up the duty of guarding their little community from harm, they did not expect Hilde to spend a time in watch. It was near time for the next assigned watchman to come but Hilde found herself wishing it wasn't. Things between her and her husband had become difficult after she finally remembered herself. A part of her yearned to go to Gunther and ask him to forgive her curtness. Another part of her was filled with anger at how she had yoked herself together with him, feeling that she accepted him too quickly. The conflict within her turned into conflict with him. Gunther was happy to fight, joyous even. This only angered her more, to the point where she had not spoken to him in three days and refused to lie in their bed. Now, she regretted her refusal even as her anger over her husband's unbridled joy in their argument roiled within her.

The sky had taken on the shades of deep blue that came with the stars. Hilde shook her head at the distant lights of the town across the valley glowing orange on that hill. Footsteps sounded behind her. Hilde said nothing as she silently argued with herself. The wind shifted and she smelled Gunther's scent on it. "You hate me even as you love me," he said, "You lust for me even as you revile me. Gone is the woman who gladly sank into my arms at night. But I am happy for our parting because you have come into my life again." Hilde closed her eyes against the emotions that rose up in her, against the pleasure that came with the sound of his quiet, solemn voice.

"Go away, Gunnar," she said, unable to keep the exhaustion out of her voice. The facade of maintaining the image of doting adoration since the day that she returned to her senses was making her weary. Gunther moved closer. She heard the sound of fabric being moved. Then he set his cloak about her shoulders. Warmth was caught in that fabric and Hilde found herself feeling thankful for the small comfort it gave her against the night's cold. Then she forced the feeling aside.

Gunther's arms settled about her waist with the familiarity of their five years of marriage. Hilde stiffened, though she wanted to lean back against him. His voice was low and sounded almost soothing as he spoke to her with his lips nearly against her left ear. "Hearth-warder mine," he said, "What can I give to make you look on me with favor?" Hilde trembled for a moment. She wasn't sure if it was the chill night air, her internal chaos, or pleasure that she struggled to will away.

"Nothing," Hilde answered, her tone sharper than she intended. The part of her that wanted to turn and bury her face against his neck was pained and wanted to take back her words. Gunther reached up and pulled the cloak tighter about Hilde's shoulders as the wind picked up. "What do you want?" she asked quietly.

"You," he answered, "Only you. I would leave Avalon to follow you through the nine worlds and beyond. Either to hunt you or to be at your side." He stepped around in front of her. Hilde opened her eyes and looked up into his face. An awful stillness was in his expression as he gazed at her. "You are angry," he said, "with me?" A sharp word was on Hilde's lips until she realized what he was asking. "I will lay Doombringer between us," he continued in that careful tone, "We shall lay chaste as children. For as long as you will it."

"You're hurt by this," Hilde answered him. Gunther said nothing, merely looking at her. "I'm not angry with you," she said after a moment, looking away from him. Gunther started to reach to lay a hand against her cheek and then he halted, his hand just barely away from her skin. He started to pull his hand away when Hilde leaned her head against his hand. Hilde's eyes closed as she rubbed her cheek against his palm. An unintentional look of bliss crossed over her face.

Gunther's right hand settled against her left cheek and he turned her face towards his again. His mouth brushed lightly against hers, more of a mingling of breath than a kiss. His unexpected gentleness shook something deep within her. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she closed her eyes tighter. "Why do you fight this?" he asked as he brushed them away with his thumbs.

"It is in my nature to fight," Hilde answered, doing her best to keep her tone neutral. There was the slightest quaver in her voice. If Gunther had not been paying close attention to his wife, he would have missed it. But now, he was keenly aware of how her breath caught before she spoke and the faint tremor of tension that ran through her. "This is not how it should be," Hilde said and again regretted the words as they left her mouth. Gunther saw the small expression of pain flicker over her face. Concern for her erased the pain that came from her words in his heart.

"How should it be then, my love?" he asked. Hilde opened her eyes. She looked up at him, her expression turning to miserable anguish. "What is it that thou hast wished for in the depths of thine heart, bride of mine?" he said as his tone turned both more formal and yearning.

"Go," she said in a small voice, "let me be." Hilde closed her eyes again and brought a hand up to cover her face. A small sob shook her. Gunther let his hands fall to his sides. Thinking he was about to walk away, Hilde turned and sank to her knees as her tears burned their way down her wind chilled cheeks. "I shouldn't be like this," she gasped, "I shouldn't feel this way. Ah, gods, why? He has weakened me." Her face covered with both hands, Hilde wept at Gunther's feet, too caught in the force of her conflicted grief to notice he was there.

"Brynhildr Jordsdottir is one of the strongest and most courageous knights I have ever known," Gunther answered, "The only one who can truly harm her, who can break her, is herself. Which I fear she is doing now."

"Go away!" she shrieked, her head whipping up and her face turning towards him, "Don't look at me like this." Gunther knelt beside Hilde. She closed her eyes and turned her face away from his look of loving compassion. Another sob struck her and Hilde hit the ground with all of her strength. Slowly, carefully, Gunther gathered her into his arms. Hilde, who had begun to weep again, let him. "I am undone," she said with a choking sob, "all by you." "All by you," she repeated weakly.

"Shall I leave then?" he asked. Hilde's reply was lost in her sobs but she threw her arms around him in a desperate effort to keep him by her side. "What is wrong?" he asked.

"I need you," she said in a tone thick with self loathing, "I need no man. But I need you. If you are gone, then I am nothing. What good am I? I am a weak, worthless woman. Ruled by my fickle heart rather than my head. I am tolerated, nothing more." Gunther smiled and held her close.

"Is that what the problem is?" he said, unable to help his amusement. Hilde moved to shove him away. "Be still," he commanded, amusement replaced with something sharper. Hilde hid her face behind her hands, shaking with tears that she hated. "It seems that Hilde's heart remains," Gunther said fondly, "As does her pride. But, perhaps that tender heart has always been there, guarded by your anger." Gunther laid his cheek against the top of Hilde's head. He sighed, relishing the feel of her in his arms and the way the scent of her shampoo mingled with the bitter notes of wormwood and rue that hung about her like perfume. "It is good that tender heart is there," Gunther said slowly, "It is the most charming thing about her."

"It makes me a liability," Hilde answered bitterly.

"No," he said, "It is your hidden strength. Others underestimate you on account of it and they are fools for doing so. Only your supple, gentle heart, kept our daughter alive and McManus's family. Only the anger evoked in that heart at the injustices of the world could reform countless lives through the Daly project, and the grief of his death." Gunther placed a kiss on her head before leaning back. His hands settled to either side of her face and turned her head until she was looking directly at him. "I shall woo you, Brynhildr," he said, "With all the fierce determination that has lead me to chase you through the ages. I shall show you that your heart is a thing of beauty, like a knife's edge in moonlight."

"We are married," Hilde replied flatly.

"I am wedded to Hilde, but Brynhildr's heart is not entirely mine," he answered in a tone of mild reproach, "I would have all of you, Green Maiden. And show you the strength you fail to see. I may be a monster, but I am civilized. I wear the mask of a man very, very well. So you have told me. I know that you are drawn to the monster within me. You watch me with hunger because of it. Only a woman of incredible strength can stand me. I have broken others. You, however, do not break. You thole your wounds but you do not break. You do not understand this. I shall show you through your bleeding wounds."

"I bear no wounds, Gunnar," Hilde responded warily.

Gunther smiled. "Oh, but you do, my love," he answered, "great ones pouring heart's blood. I shall drink that blood even as I help you bind them. You have loved me for my cruelty and hated me for my kindness. You do not realize, it is all cruelty. To deprive the masochist of the blow they ache for is greater torment than whipping."  Gunther kissed Hilde slowly and gently, but with force that would have been irresistible to someone who didn't have the strength of Avalon in their veins. Hilde gave herself over to the kiss despite herself, unable to push aside the desire for comfort that came with his kiss.

When he broke the kiss, Gunther stood. He looked down at Hilde, kneeling in the snow, and he smiled wider. "You are such a pretty sight," he said. Hilde's expression morphed from something vulnerable to one of annoyance. Gunther laughed and Hilde's annoyance deepened. He held out his hand to her. "Come, hearth-warder mine," he said, "The night is cold and I offer you a warm place to lay your pretty head. We shall lay chaste as children, if you wish, but it is my right as your husband to lay with you. I know you have no desire to be foresworn." Anger flickered in Hilde's eyes as she looked up at him. "Ah," he said contentedly, "My joy is complete." Hilde rolled her eyes and started to her feet on her own. Gunther stooped slightly and abruptly swept Hilde off her feet. "And the bride groom shall carry his new wife over the threshold so that she might not stumble and bring ill luck upon their house," Gunther continued.

Hilde found herself on the verge of arguing with him but decided that it was more effort than what she wished to engage in. As Gunther carried her lightly down the lane back to the longhouse, the man who was to relieve Hilde at her watch stepped to the side as they passed by. They soon came to the doors and found them opening as they reached them. Gunther's demeanor was merry as he walked the length of the hall to their sleeping chamber. Hilde's expression of irritation was ignored by her husband when he paused to speak with the man who was their chamberlain. Gunther's hold on Hilde tightened impercetibly before the farmer's eyes, but Hilde was aware of the silent message. She set her head on Gunther's shoulder and sighed with exasperation.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hilde & Gunther: Awake

Hilde hit the punching bag. The back swung away from her. On the return swing, she kicked it before hitting it again. Relentlessly, she pummeled the heavy bag. In her mind's eye, she saw the face of the man who had raped her when she was a teen. Each blow, she envisioned her strikes hitting him. Her anger made her vision take on a faint haze of red. So focused on her strikes, Hilde didn't notice when Gunther walked into the training room.

He watched his wife as she beat the bag with sufficient force that he was glad that he wasn't on the receiving end of it and wondered what the Urban knights had done to make it durable enough to withstand an Avalonian's fury. A small snarl twisted her full lips and her eyes were narrowed. Hilde's long hair, the color of willow withies, was in the process of falling out of the messy bun she had it tied up into. The fly away bits gave her something like a halo, which made Gunther smile. Dressed in one of his band t-shirts and a loose pair of pants, she wasn't exactly in her finery. That didn't stop his heart from quickening at the sight of her. If anything, it served to heighten his attraction to her because she didn't care how she looked.

Gunther waved off a squire's offer to take his duffle bag. Gunther dropped the black bag on the floor. The equipment he had used in his mission clattered with its landing but the sergeant paid it no mind. He looked about the room at the equipment and his eyes fell on the red oak staves that were standing near a large window that looked out on the courtyard of the embassy. The brown haired man crossed the room and picked out two that he decided was sturdy enough. He briefly considered taking the metal ones but chose the wooden ones for the additional level of control they demanded.

He walked up to Hilde. She ignored his approach and the noise of him dropping the staves. He reached over and tapped her on the shoulder. Hilde, so caught up in her meditation of revenge, turned with her right fist raised ready to strike. Gunther smiled at the sight. His wife's expression moved from a mixture of rage and some undefinable emotion that came over her when the past was brought up to irritation. "You need a fight," he said. She turned back to resume beating the heavy bag when Gunther tripped her.

Hilde hit the ground and rolled away from him. As she came up to her feet, she glared at him, anger simmering in her eyes. Gunther picked up the staves. He tossed one at her before bringing his own to bear. Giving her a moment to get to her feet, the former Morganite attacked his love. Blows were traded with increasing ferocity in eerie silence. For each attack, there was a counter attack. Then, by dumb luck, Gunther got a blow past Hilde's defenses and struck her on her right bicep.

The silence was broken when Hilde gave a cry of pure anger. Gunther was then working to keep his furious wife from pummeling him. A few people chuckled. The sound of their amusement pricked Hilde's senses and only deepened her fury. The sergeants fought and Gunther realized that something about Hilde's mental state had changed. In her gaze, she somehow went from a brilliant burning glare that she usually gave him when they were arguing to something cold, if fusion could be cold.

Her body movements lost the slight hesitation that they held when she fought him. Instead, Gunther found himself facing the full force of his wife's blows. When the stave in his hand broke into two in his hands from a blow from hers and the end of her stave was beneath his chin, forcing his head up, Gunther looked at her. This was not the Hilde he had come to know, this was something different.

"You never could beat me with sticks, Gunnar," she said. Gunther's eyes widened slightly when he realized all the different fractured parts of Hilde's soul had finally settled together into their proper order. Hearing the words of Brunhildr out of the mouth of the woman that incarnated as Brunhilde in this life time with all the disgust from that first life present mingled with the irritation of the present life, Gunther began to smile like a man who had won the county fair's greatest prize. Hilde gave him a look of annoyance.

When she turned and looked about the room with her new eyes, she spotted the pair of squires who had been amused with Hilde's unexpected ferocity against her own husband. One of them hastily looked away. The first locked eyes with the woman who had been known as perhaps the gentlest of the Viridis knights. That anger in her eyes made him pale. As she passed them by on her way to the locker room, Hilde said quietly, "Never laugh at me, unless I have made a joke." The shaken squire stammered something. Gunther walked up to the pair.

"Now she's truly Awake," he said, "This is where things get interesting." Gunther picked up his gear and looked over at the broken stave laying beside the others. He shook his head. When he walked to the armory, he couldn't stop thinking about the wildness in Hilde's eyes or the way her cheeks were flushed with her effort. He found himself feeling a hunger to make this changed Hilde cry out again, a part of him wanted it to be a cry of ecstasy. But the monster that lurked with in him wanted to hear that cry of pained fury again and again. Gunther closed his eyes and took a deep breath, envisioning himself in bitter cold water. He did his level best to calm himself. Then someone nudged him in the shoulder and he heard Constantinius say with something that could almost pass for wry amusement, "I don't think that's the proper way to salute an officer."

Gunther's eyes snapped open and he looked over. The Tombknocker that, in life, was Hilde's grandfather, looked at Gunther with a droll expression as Gunther shifted the bag of gear in an attempt to cover his improper salute. "Go deal with your issue," Constantinius, "I just wanted to make sure that you were aware I had received the report. I'll stow this stuff. Gives me a break from paperwork." Gunther gave the dead man a grin. "If you have to, make it a son this time," Constantinius said to him as he turned to walk off.

"I'll give it my best effort," Gunther called over his shoulder as he left to seek his wife. Gunther found her in their apartment. With all the stealth he could muster, he had entered the apartment and stolen to where he could watch her as she scrubbed the oven, clearly still angry with something. Gunther suspected it was himself and he couldn't be any more delighted than he was. He gazed longingly at the curve of her hips and the way they felt in hand. Hilde suddenly stopped her cleaning and straightened. She threw the wash rag into the sink full of scaldingly hot soapy water.

"Gunnar," she said flatly. Unsure if she had noticed him or not, Gunther's breath caught in his throat and for a brief moment an unfamiliar feeling touched him, it was that of being outmatched by the knight before him. "Him and his damn pride," she snarled as she shut the oven with a slam, "Always have to be the center of attention. Won't leave me alone for five fucking minutes." She picked up her wash rag out of the water and turned, clearly ready to scour the counter top between them with an unholy fury. Hilde's eyes narrowed. "You," she said in a tone thick with loathing. She flung the steaming rag at Gunther's chest as she spat viciously, "You interrupted me. You always interrupt me. You don't have the damn simple courtesy for an excuse me, do you?"

The wet, hot rag struck him with a slap, leaving a wet patch against his chest. Gunther had the grace to at least wince in discomfort from the painful heat. Hilde knew it was nothing more than a show. Previously, this mollified her anger to some small extent. Now, however, Hilde ground her teeth, knowing that to her husband, the scalding heat of the wash water was to him like tepid bath water. A part of her wanted to let things go. A part of her desperately wanted to just go back to her cleaning. That part, however, was ruthlessly quelled, as Hilde said, "Don't have a damn thing to say, do you?"

Gunther gave a slow, hungry smile. Hilde shook her head. "Oh no you don't," she said, "Not this time." He started around the corner of the counter when she moved with shocking speed. Surprised by her rush, Gunther found himself barely able to stop his face from slamming into the polished speckled black granite. "You.." she started when Gunther twisted out of her grip and kicked her feet out from under her. Hilde hit the ground and started to roll to her feet when Gunther dropped down upon her.

He sat squarely in the center of her abdomen, grabbing her wrists as she moved to throw him off of her and pinned them at the center of her chest over her wildly pounding heart. Hilde twisted beneath him, but her husband moved with her, still managing to keep her pinned. "What the fuck do you want?" she demanded, "Why won't you leave me the fuck alone to finish shit?"

Gunther looked Hilde over and he gave a small, almost contented sounding sigh. "You," he answered, "I want you." Hilde was about to spit some sort of angry retort when Gunther leaned down and kissed her. With that kiss, something inside her switched. She tried to pull her wrists out of his hold, but he pressed harder. Gunther could smell how her scent had switched from wormwood to sandalwood and rose. He grinned as he kissed her again, sliding his hands up her forearms to her shoulders and then into her hair.

He repositioned himself so that his hips were squarely over hers and his erection was pressing against her. Hilde gave a small sound of frustration when he broke the kiss. As he sat back, Hilde watched him. Where previously she would have lain still and simply stared at him, this time, she sat up as soon as he was sitting on his heels. She took hold of the neckline of his shirt and pulled him to her. Gunther pushed her back and she made a noise that sounded closer to anger than lust.

Soon, they were wrestling on the floor. When things had come to an end, somehow they had managed to tear each other's shirts and given each other bruises that were forming over their arms and torsos. Gunther was atop Hilde, breathing hard as he stared down at her with his dark hair falling into his eyes. He leaned down and ran his tongue over the edge of her right shoulder, relishing the taste of her sweat and the delicate shiver that passed through her. Her hands took hold of the ragged tatters of his shirt and tore them off his shoulders.

He took hold of her right wrist and pressed it to the tiled floor beside her head. His voice was husky with arousal and a pleasure that ran deeper than mere sex when he said quietly in her ear, "Hild me, Green Maiden mine." Hilde arched against him and wrapped her right leg around him. Gunther relaxed his hold when suddenly she moved and he found himself pinned on the ground with his arms crossed over his chest.

"Be wary of what you seek," she answered, sounding delightfully breathless. Gunther started to sit up and they were wrestling again. By the time Gunther had managed to have Hilde pinned again, it was only by the perverse quirk of fate that bodily mechanics worked against her. Gunther's grin was reckless. Hilde's fight to assert dominance in the situation was hard but he realized he was beginning to wear her down. Slowly he lowered himself down so that his face was but a breath away from hers.

"Victory shall be mine," he purred. Hilde's shoulders twitched before she tried to wrench her wrists out of his grip. Taking the warning as presented, Gunther did the unexpected thing and released her wrists. Her arms flung out with the force of her motion, which was harsher than necessary for she had anticipated resistance. Gunther took hold of Hilde's head with both of his hands and he kissed her. It was a hard kiss that bruised her lips. As she began to become breathless, Hilde softened beneath him, her hands falling lightly on his back.

He pushed the kiss until their bodies were screaming for breath and then a bit farther, treading past the limits of a non-Avalonian boldly. When he finally broke the kiss, Hilde took in a deep gasping breath. Gunther breathed more quietly and slipped his hands beneath her armpits. As he stood and lifted her up, Hilde decided that amorous combat was the field that she would conquer him on. Gunther continued to lift Hilde until he held her high enough so that her breasts were well positioned before his face. Hilde wrapped her legs around his waist, shifting the dynamic so that he no longer needed to use all his strength to hold her.

He wrapped an arm about her waist and held a hand between her shoulders. Gunther closed his mouth over her right breast. Where she had expected him to give her love bites, he caressed her nipple with his tongue. Hilde gasped as she wrapped her arms about his shoulders. Gunther blindly carried her through the apartment to their bedroom, knowing the room like the back of his hand. In the bedroom, his feet encountered one of his wife's slippers laying in the middle of the floor. With a small growl, he kicked it aside on is way to the bed. He lowered her to the bed and held still, enjoying the way she was wrapped about him.

He nuzzled her right breast as she lightly ran her fingertips over a scar on the back of his right shoulder. His left hand clamped down hard over her mouth heartbeats before his teeth sank into the soft flesh. Her cry of surprised pain was muffled. Gunther felt tension run through her as he slowly bit harder. Hilde's soft caress turned into hands pressing at his shoulders to push him up and away from her. Gunther dragged his tongue over her rapidly bruising flesh as his right hand moved down to her hips.

Hilde shuddered and gave a confused moan of pleasure as he pushed the sweatpants down her thighs. Heat began to burn in his lips as he kissed and nibbled his way up to her throat. His inhuman command of heat lead to small burns beginning to form where his mouth had passed. When he reached her throat, the heat was such that she was again attempting to push him away. He muttered against her neck, "Fight me. Win and you'll be free." Hilde hesitated in her resistance and Gunther bit her neck. Muffled against his hand, Hilde gave a loud cry of pained ecstasy. Gunther lifted his head and looked at her.

Caught somewhere between the urge to fight him and the desire to surrender, she looked up at him with wide eyes. Gunther slid his right hand down her body and into her panties. As he caressed her clit, Hilde nearly sat up right in shock at how cool his touch was. With the skill acquired from years of learning his lover's body, Gunther brought her to the edge of orgasm and stopped. As he teased and tickled her, he watched her eyes. Lust won out over her desire to fight and soon it turned to pained need.

Gunther stood and pulled Hilde's remaining garments off with casual violence. Rather than turning off that greedy need for his touch, the abruptness of his divesting her of her clothes made her shudder with pleasure. Gunther took off his pants and stroked his erection with a hand made damp with his wife's juices. She started to sit up and reach for him when he grabbed hold of her hips and pulled them to meet his. Thrusting in with a single, powerful motion, Gunther bared his teeth in a hiss of pleasure.

There was no tenderness in their amorous combat. He rode her with the violence that burned within them both. Hilde writhed beneath him in such a fashion that a lesser man would have struggled, but Gunther had no such problems. Her nails raked against his back, drawing blood where they passed.
She bit down on his shoulder, hard enough to draw blood in the end, an effort to muffle the screams of pleasure he ripped out of her with his harsh fucking. By the time his climax had reached him, Hilde was struggling mightily to remain conscious, though each orgasm weakened her further.

Hilde stared owlishly at him when he stretched out beside her on the bed, his knightly gifts healing the wounds she left on him. "Still fighting?" Gunther asked with a tone of dark amusement. He could see in her eyes that she was on the verge of calling on her knightly gifts to push past the lethargy that was spreading through her in the afterglow of their sex. Gunther's smile turned to a grin of satisfaction as he watched the struggle within her. Calling on his own gifts, he said with the force of a Royal command, "Sleep."

As her lids fluttered shut, Gunther was nearly sure he could see her final conscious thought in them. It was exhausted defiance. Her breathing took on the slow even rhythms of deep unconsciousness shortly later. Gunther sat up and pulled the blankets over them. "Thank goddess for the Urban knight's building habits," he said with a satisfied grin as he lay back down, "Tonight is probably going to be much louder. She's mad." He chuckled, pleased with his victory, however temporary it was.