Red Dragon Inn
Dreamweaver's Lair => Elysian Fields => Kings & Courts => Topic started by: Idris on August 23, 2020, 02:02:35 PM
With winter approaching even here in Valentia, the warmth of summer was fading to the cooler climes of the winter months, though here they were never without sunshine. Still, it was a relief to know that winter was here, that Lotharingia was unlikely to launch any attack on them in these unseasonal months. Sasha was even more relieved to know that her husband was returning from his summer of border guarding and reinforcing, the commander of the armies allowed to return home to his wife for the winter ahead.
It was dusk by the time the Commander of the King's Army made his return to Valentia's capital. The setting sun cast its light on the mountains turning them a light shade of purple, while the buildings looked orange in the waning light of day. Idris' heart soared to be home at last after a long summer away ensuring their borders were safe. He kicked his horse into a gallop, eager to reach the palace and be reunited with those he loved.
The trumpets sounded to herald the return of the commander and the army, the gates of the palace opening easily before him to welcome him home. Lads rushed to take charge of his horse, bowing respectfully before him as the doors to the palace itself were opened and a familiar, bearded friend charged out to embrace the commander cheerfully. "Idris! You're not dead!"
Idris dismounted quickly, leaving the horse in the care of the boys who would take him to the stables and care for his needs. Both man and beast were weary from the journey and in need of rest and relaxation. The commander's beard had grown longer while he'd been away, his clothing covered in dust, but the crinkles at the corners of his eye gave away the smile hidden behind that beard at the strange welcome he received from his friend.
"No I am not dead," he echoed, with a chuckle. "Should I be?"
Ezra chuckled again, patting his friend on the shoulder as he stepped back. "I do not think this palace would survive the news of your death," he said in amusement. "I am not entirely sure even Osman and Zahra could console your wife if you did not come home."
"Miss me, did she?" Idris asked, teeth gleaming in a grin, despite the tangled beard and grime that covered his face. He knew his appearance made him look worse than he felt, but he'd been too eager for home to bother bathing and grooming before arriving.
"She has had her moments of being hell to live with, I am reliably informed," Ezra informed him cheerfully, drawing his friend into the palace. "The babies helped for a while, but she's been very worried about you. I could be wrong, but I think you may have tamed the wild woman of the harem."
Though Idris did not say so, he had missed his wife, too. Men and horses might be companionable enough, but they were no substitute for the company of a soft, lovely woman. Idris laughed at his friend's remark. "Ha! I will believe that when I see it. Before I left, she was still insisting I best her in combat."
"Nasir gave her permission to spar with the royal bodyguard," Ezra told him with a short laugh. "Their training regimen became quite a bit more strenuous a few days after that started. I do believe your wife beat a couple of them bloody."
Idris arched a brow at his friend's claim. Though he did not doubt Sasha's skill in combat, he did not think any man who called himself a soldier should allow himself to be beaten by a woman, unless it was done on purpose. Still, Sasha was like no woman he had ever met before, and he was only one of few who knew why. "If they have gone soft guarding the palace, they will find I am not such an easy taskmaster."
"I think you have your wife to thank for the fact that any softness they might have had has been trained out of them in the past months," Ezra assured him. It had been very funny to watch the reaction of seasoned soldiers to their defeat by a woman who insisted on wearing a skirt to fight.
"I trust she was not harmed," Idris said, a question implied in his statement, walking along beside his friend as they entered the palace. As much as he thought his men weak for letting a woman defeat them, he would have been even more enraged had she been hurt.
"I have heard nothing of any injury, and you can be certain if she had been hurt, Teres would have ripped my ears off to get me to put some kind of punishment in place for it," was Ezra's reassuring answer. As chancellor, he was in charge of all goings on within the palace, and therefore, in Idris' absence, the guards technically reported to him.
"If she was not a woman, I might make her my second in command," Idris said, though that was unlikely to happen. Women did not train to become soldiers in Valentia the way they did in some of the other nations on the continent.
"Does she know that?" his friend asked with a grin and a raised eyebrow. He had a feeling that Sasha would respond very favourably to knowing that her husband had that much faith in her abilities.
Idris chuckled. "Of course not. If she knew, she would insist on me doing so, and that might very well start a rebellion." There had been a time when he had not thought women capable of fighting as well as men, and though Sasha had changed his mind, he still did not like the idea of women partaking in battle.
"I seem to recall her offering to take your head off with the king's own sword at my wedding," Ezra mused with impish nostalgia. At the time, it had been alarming, but in retrospect, it was one of the most hilarious meetings of an ordained to be wed couple he had ever witnessed.
Idris chuckled and shrugged. "She loves me," he said, as if that excused or caused her behavior. It was in good part Sasha's fire that had drawn him to her. While other men preferred a docile woman, Sasha kept him on his toes.
"That she does," Ezra agreed, steering their steps toward the harem. In the past months since the new queen's coronation, the harem was no longer completely closed to men. Men of a certain rank - married men - were welcome within, provided they behaved in a proper manner, and as such, the women within were beginning to learn and recognize political maneuvering within their own households.
Idris didn't bother to ask if his wife had shown an interest in any other men; the very idea was absurd, not to mention forbidden. She belonged to him now, just as he belonged to her. His smile faded momentarily, wondering if he should have made himself more presentable before coming here, but he was too eager to see her. A bath would just have to wait.
Sasha was not exactly presentable herself. She was drenched, half-sitting in the fountain of the women’s' courtyard with two six-month-old babies, splashing and laughing under the amused eye of the two mothers sat nearby.
Teres was the first of the women to notice the men's arrival, a smile touching her lips at her husband's approach. She nudged Safi beside her and nodded her head silently toward the men, knowing how much Sasha had missed her husband, even if she hadn't said so.
Safi pulled her eyes away from the playing in the fountain at Teres' nudge, her smile deepening in welcome to the two men who approached. Like her friend, she said nothing, gesturing for Idris to surprise Sasha if he so wished, provided the children did not end up beneath the water.
Idris' mouth twitched into a grin beneath all that hair, returning Safi's nod as the two men came to a halt a few feet from the fountain. "One would think one's wife would be more eager to greet him after so many months away from home," he said, loud enough for the women to hear him.
Sasha's back stiffened at the sound of the voice she had not heard for several months now. With each child clutched under each arm, she turned, wide eyed, and for a moment, there was silence. Then, with a swiftness that belied the shy coolness she had always shown in front of other eyes, she set the children down on their tottering feet, and launched herself from the fountain, spraying water everywhere as she threw herself into Idris' arms with a kiss that was certainly as warm a welcome as he could possibly have hoped for.
That welcome was exactly the one he had hoped for, and as she launched herself at him, he spread his arms to welcome her eagerly into his embrace. His kiss assured her without words that he had missed her and was happy to be home.
Never mind the dust of travel or the water soaking into his cloak from her skirts, this was exactly what both of them had been hoping for almost since the moment they had parted. Breathless, but bright with a smile that had been sorely lacking for the summer months, Sasha drew back, drawing her fingers through Idris' beard fondly. "Welcome home, husband."
Idris' arms still reached for her, greedy and possessive, even as she drew back to look at him. He looked at her, too, only realizing in that moment how much he had really missed her. It was like he'd been starving, and she was the only thing that could satisfy his hunger. "It is good to be home, wife," he told her in return, eyes only for her.
"You're a mess," she said then, though her smile was still in place. It was a warmer homecoming than he might have expected from his usually shy wife, but they had been apart for several months. Sasha had realised just how much she enjoyed his company, how much she relied on him, only when he wasn't there.
He couldn't help but smirk at her welcome. "I apologize, but there are few creature comforts in camp. Be happy I do not have lice," he said, shaking his hair at her.
She snorted with laughter, capturing his face between her hands to draw him down into a softer kiss. "Perhaps I should bathe you before anything else happens today."
"Perhaps you should," he whispered back. He made no move to pull away, thoroughly enjoying her attention, as well as her kisses. "I have missed you, Sasha," he added, touching his forehead to hers.
"Word has reached me that my commander has returned!" a voice they both recognized as belonging to the king interrupted.
Sasha's smile deepened with teasing sweetness as the king's voice intruded. Laughing, she drew back to bow to Nasir as he entered, though she did not move far from Idris' side.
"Papa!" a small voice declared, Osman tottering forward on unsteady feet to try and get to his father, arms flailing happily.
"There's my boy!" Nasir said, sweeping the little prince up off his feet and into his arms before turning to brush a kiss against Safi's lips. "We were not expecting you for a few days," he said to Idris, though his attention was at least partially distracted by that of his son.
Idris swung an arm around Sasha, not letting her escape his embrace so easily. "Highness," he said, with a small nod of his head. "I was anxious to be home," he added, with a wink at Sasha.
Safiya laughed quietly, happy to be enfolded beneath Nasir's other arm as he lifted their son affectionately to his hip. "Such impatience," she teased. "Anyone would think you are eager to add more children to the harem."
Sasha's cheeks burned, despite her smile, unused to everyone around them knowing exactly what her plans were for her husband on his arrival home.
"Is it wrong to think these two need another companion?" Idris returned, with regard to his friends' children, a grin making itself known behind his beard.
"I assume things are well at the border," Nasir said, more statement than question. There would be time to discuss it in depth later, but he wanted to make sure there was nothing he needed to concern himself about.
"A few minor incursions," Idris replied. "Nothing to be too concerned about."
"Casualties?" Ezra asked, looking up from where Zahra had wrapped herself around his leg and was swinging her mother's hand back and forth.
"A few minor casualties. None dead," Idris replied, relieved to be able to report that, at least. "I'll have a full report for you tomorrow," he said, hoping that would suffice for now.
"He'll smell better, too," Sasha added, unable to resist teasing her husband in front of his friend and king. Ezra failed to turn his laugh into a cough fast enough to hide it.
"There is no running water at camp, I'm afraid," Idris remarked, unless one counted rivers and streams. He had, of course, bathed when he could, but he had not done so since he'd left camp for home.
"Oh, do rivers not run hot on command outside these walls?" Safiya asked, her innocently ignorant expression so perfectly crafted that only those who knew her well could tell she knew this was a ridiculous idea.
"Sadly, no, Majesty," Idris replied. Apparently, he'd heard that Nasir had at last made her his queen while his commander had been away at the border. "But at least, the rivers are not so cold in summer."
"How disappointing," Safiya teased, looking up at Nasir. "You should probably command them to do that."
Sasha rolled her eyes, reaching over to prod her friend and queen. "You do vacant idiocy a little too well, Safi."
"And it is completely unnecessary among friends," Teres interjected, as she possessively took Ezra's arm, as though she was claiming him for her own.
"You do smell a bit ripe, Idris," Nasir remarked, wrinkling his nose. "Perhaps you should have a bath and get some rest, and we'll reconvene tomorrow."
"I will make certain he is presentable tomorrow, majesty," Sasha promised, squeezing her arm about Idris' waist as much in promise to him as to herself.
"I am sure he will be in good hands with you, Sasha," Nasir agreed with a knowing grin. "Welcome home, my friend. We will talk tomorrow," he told the commander.
"Thank you, majesty," Idris replied. "It is good to be home."
Little Osman was watching Idris wide-eyed, comfortable with the newcomer in his circle only because the adults he loved and trusted were so happy to see him themselves. The infant clung to his father's shoulder, sucking on his fingers as the friends teased and chatted together.
Sasha winked at the little boy before speaking again. "Permission to half-drown the commander, your majesty?"
"Permission granted," Nasir replied without hesitation, an amused grin on his face. "I will leave you to it then," he said, looking to Safi, little Osman on his hip. "Shall we? The little prince is looking like it's time for his nap."
"Thank you, majesty."
With a grin for their friends, Sasha took a firm hold on Idris' hand and began to march out of the harem courtyard, heading for the doorway to the palace proper and their own quarters, with laughter following them from their brief companions.
Once they were out of earshot of their friends, Idris couldn't help but turn his grin on Sasha as she led him away. "Did you miss me?" he asked, though that much seemed obvious.
"Perhaps a little," she said, not wanting the women they passed to hear her admit to having missed her husband with a deep aching pain.
"Ah, well ... You will simply have to put up with me until I am due to go on patrol again," he told her, trying to keep the teasing tone out of his voice. If the way she'd pounced him was anything to go by, she had missed him more than she was willing to admit.
"And the first thing you are going to do is wash yourself and let me trim that rats' nest you are currently calling a beard," she informed him. As the harem door was left behind them, her pace seemed to quicken, until she was only just holding herself back from running all the way to the quarters she had been lonely in for too long.
"As far as I can tell, there are no rats nesting in my beard," he said, unable to hide the smirk from his face, if she could see it beneath all the hair on his face. "In a hurry, wife?" he asked, purposely dragging his feet, just to irk her.
She stuttered to a halt as he called her on her impatience, turning to face him in the corridor. "Is it so bad if I am?" she asked, almost sweetly vulnerable in that moment. "I have missed you, Idris."
He slid his arms around her waist to draw her close, not really caring if anyone was watching. They were husband and wife, after all, and he had missed her more than words could say. "I have missed you, too, Sasha," he told her again, his voice softening, though the kiss he pressed to her lips was anything but soft. Hungry and needy, that kiss spoke of his desire.
His kiss drew a soft sound of echoed need from her throat as her arms curled about his shoulders, teasing fingers into his hair as she pressed close. It was a world away from the shy, reserved Sasha he had left behind him over half a year before.
He wasn't sure what had come over her since he'd been gone, but he was not about to question it. Had she really missed him as much as she seemed to? Was she finally ready to become his wife in every way? He couldn't deny the way his body reacted to her - the way his body had always reacted to her - nor could he deny the seemed to melt into his arms and groan against his lips.
"Let us go home," he whispered against her lips.
"We are almost there," she murmured back to him, though she was deeply reluctant to pull away even for a few moments. But Sasha was nothing if not stern of will, forcing herself to draw away, showing off flushed cheeks and stormy eyes as she claimed his hand once again to pull him along the corridor to their own door.
He was sorely tempted to toss her over his shoulders and have his way with her, no matter how much she might protest, but he did not want a reluctant wife, but one who wanted him as much as he wanted her. "Lead on," he told her, letting her go just long enough to get them safely inside their quarters.
Despite her impatience, his wife did seem fairly determined to get him into the warm bath set into the floor of their bathing chamber, continuing to walk with purpose even after the door to their apartments closed in their wake.
"Do I really smell that bad?" Idris asked, clearly amused at the way his wife seemed insistent on him taking a bath. He knew he was sweaty and dusty from the journey home, but he couldn't help but tease her.
"Yes, you do," she informed him, tugging him into the bathing chamber. Once he was in there with her, she turned back, her hands pulling his belt and sash undone to begin disrobing him with a secretive promise in her eyes.
"Are you sure you can handle this, Sasha?" Idris teased her. "Or would you prefer I call for a servant." He couldn't help the smirk that kept appearing on his face. This was a side of Sasha he had not seen before.
She raised a brow above a smirk of her own, daring him to do just that, even as the belt and sash came free, tossed to one side before her fingers began to undo the fastenings of his travel coat and the shirt beneath. "Would you really rather have a servant strip you for me?"
"I prefer your touch above any other," he assured her, studying her face as she stripped him of his clothes, which would probably need to be burned, rather than washed. "I have been away too long," he murmured, mostly to himself. He had not realized just how much he had missed her until he was on his way home.
"You have a duty," she said softly, easing the folds of fabric from his shoulders until he stood bare-chested before her, her gaze searching his form for new scars, new injuries, wanting to know if he truly was as unharmed as he seemed.
"I do," he agreed without argument. There were a few new scars here and there, but nothing that looked like it had been too serious. Skirmishes were bound to happen, but though he would stand by his claim that none of his men had been killed, that did not mean that blood had not been spilled.
Her fingertips skimmed over his skin, mapping the familiar planes of his body, kissing the new scars with her tender touch. "Your letters never said anything about your blood being spilled," she murmured, upset to learn this weeks and months after the fact.
"It was nothing, Sasha. I did not want to worry you," he told her. His body reacted to her kisses and caresses in a way that made it hard to hide his desire for her. It had been far too long since they'd been together, and now that he was back, he intended to make her his wife in every sense of the word.
"You bleeding is not nothing to me," she told him, raising her eyes to his once more. There was an open softness in her gaze that had been lacking before his absence; it seemed that absence truly had made her heart grow fonder. She stepped just a little closer, smoothing her arms about his waist to tuck her face into the crook of his shoulder and kiss the beat of his pulse in his throat.
Idris arched his brows upwards as her embrace, but made no move to pull away. Could it be she actually cared for him? "Sasha, as you can see, I am fine. All in one piece. Nothing is missing," he assured her, in case she hadn't realized that already.
"I will see that for myself," she murmured, nuzzling into the warmth of his neck for a moment longer before beginning to draw back once again. Her eyes met his, soft and tender. "You ridiculous man, do you not know that I love you and would give my life to spare yours in an instant?"
He put his arms around her to hold her close, savoring the quiet of the moment, knowing it wouldn't last. There had been no quiet moments at the border and very little privacy, and yet, when he was able to find time for sleep, his dreams were always about her. He pulled away, just enough to meet her gaze, eyes flashing momentarily at something she'd said. "Do not say such things, Sasha. I would not want to live in such a case."
"It is the only thing I have that is truly my own, and I would give it up for you in a moment," she told him. "The only way I have to truly express my heart for you."
"Then give me your heart, but do not ever wish for death. My life would be empty without you," he told her, his voice softening. It was not quite a declaration of love, but if she read his expression and listened to his words, the meaning was there.
"You have my heart," she promised him softly. "Everything I have. Everything I am. It is yours. I did not know it, until you were no longer here for me to say so."
He arched his brows again, surprised to hear her say this, to surrender to him so easily. Was this some sort of a trick? "You do not wish to best me in combat?" he asked, curious about her change of heart.
Her lips quirked into a teasing smile. "Eventually," she admitted. "But it should not be a condition of my love. I was wrong to ask you to agree to such a thing."
"It's about time," he said, his mouth curving into a wide grin. It wasn't pride that was making him smile so much as it was a mixture of relief and pleasure. He had waited long enough to make her his wife. "Perhaps I should go away more often if this is how you greet me upon my return," he teased, drawing her back into his arms.
Sasha laughed, shaking her head. "Or you could take me with you," she suggested. She knew he couldn't, at least not yet, and she would not have wanted to be away when her sisters gave birth in any case. But it was a good dream for another day.
He actually smiled at her suggestion, though he didn't like the thought of putting her in harm's way. "There are countries where women are allowed to fight beside their men. I am told Carib has a warrior queen," he told her, taking her hand so that he could draw her closer to the bath.
"I have heard that, too," she agreed. "But we would never leave Valentia." She would, given the chance to travel again, but she knew she would now forever be tied to this land. It was not so suffocating a thought as it had once been.
"I would take you with me, were I not so worried for your safety," he assured her, letting go of her hand so that he could work the buttons of her kaftan loose.
"You know I can take care of myself," she reminded him, her cheeks flushing just a little as she felt the kaftan loosen under his hands. The sun still shone, and yet they were growing more intimate. It was a new feeling altogether.
"I know you can," he said, though his fingers continued to work at that row of buttons that kept her hidden from his eyes and his hands. It wasn't dark yet, by any means, which was just as well. He wanted to see her in all her beauty for once, unshadowed by darkness.
The lace fell away easily, revealing the thin silk of the dress beneath that would be far too scandalous were it worn alone. Sasha bit her lip, blushing as she looked away. "I do not think I shall ever become accustomed to the way you look at me. It is ... fiery."
"It is my desire for you, Sasha," he told her, struggling to control his desire for as long as it would take for them both to get undressed. He was trying to go slow for her sake, but it was taking all his self control. He practically growled to find another layer beneath the first, tempted to tear the cloth from her shoulders in his urgency.
She couldn't help smirking at his impatience, easing just a little closer to untie the laces of his pants as he struggled with the thin silk of her dress. "And you sought no whores while on campaign?" she asked teasingly.
He froze in place a moment, a look of shock on his face at her question. "Whores? No. Why would I want a whore?" he said, his fingers clumsily grappling with the lacing of her undergown. "I cannot get this damnable thing untied!"
She laughed, delighted by his shocked expression, rising up onto her toes to kiss him as a reward for that reply. His frustration with her clothing, however, simply brought a fresh laugh from her lips, even as her fingers deftly relieved him of every last stitch he wore.
Now that he was as naked as the day he was born, he could no longer hide his body's desire for her, frowning in frustration where her dress was concerned, even as she laughed. "I will start the bath," he said, turning to do just that.
As he turned away, it was too tempting to stroke her fingers down over the smooth muscles of his back and backside, ending with a gentle pat to his rear end. "And you just gave up," she teased softly. "What a warrior." Giggling to herself, she turned away herself, her hands swiftly loosening the laces at her back.
He glanced over his shoulder at her as she patted his rear, a smirk on his face. "A true warrior knows when not to fight," he told her. He got the water running, while she finished changing out of her clothes, peeking over his shoulder again to watch her.
She was not ashamed of her bare form, nor shy when it was uncovered, pausing just long enough to unpin her hair from the ornate coil it was up in before turning back toward the bath. "Tsk, tsk, spying on an unclothed woman. Whatever shall I do with you?"
"I am not spying. You are my wife, and as such, it is my prerogative to admire you as much as I desire," he pointed out, knowing she might balk at that. She was not like other women, but it was that fiery spirit that had first drawn him to her.
"Your right, is it?" she asked, brows raised as she laid her hands on her hips. Her whole posture was a challenge, but where it had once been a dare, now it was an invitation.
"My prerogative," he corrected, unable to keep the smirk from his face. The fact that the word meant almost the same thing was a minor detail, in his opinion. "Would you not say the same for me?" he asked, turning around to mirror her pose, both of them looking ridiculous.
She took her time in looking at him, possibly for the first time, letting her eyes skim downward over his long limbs and exposed desire. Her lips twitched toward a smirk before she looked back at him. "If I have any rights at all, I would rather they were to touch than simply to look."
"Of course, you have rights," he told her with a huff of breath. "You are my wife, are you not?" It seemed as far as he was concerned, she had just as much right to look and touch as he did. It was only fair, after all.
"You are remarkably easy to tease, commander," she told him, letting her hands drop to her sides with a crinkly eyed smile, slipping by to check the water.
"Is that a bad thing, wife?" he asked, following her with his eyes as she moved past. He was sorely tempted to grab hold of her and have his way with her, but the bath was almost ready, and he thought he might as well kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
"Not for me." She looked at him over her shoulder, the rare burnished gold of her hair falling across her back as she smiled. "You are displaying a surprising amount of restraint for a man who almost declared war on my clothing."
"Would you rather I force myself on you?" he asked, though he wasn't sure just how much forcing he'd have to do. "Isn't the bloody bath ready yet?" he grumbled, purposely changing the subject.
Sasha laughed again, truly delighted with him and all his reactions to her now that she was no longer afraid of what they might mean. She stepped down into the warm water, turning to him with one outstretched hand. "Won't you join me, sevgili?"
"I would like nothing better," he replied, taking her hand, the edge in his voice softening at her request. He was not very graceful as he stepped into the bath, water sloshing around them. A sly smile crept onto his face, just as he slid an arm around her waist and pulled her down into the bath with him.
She gasped softly as he drew her close against him, the press of his skin to hers still a sweet shock despite her longing for it. Her own hands smoothed up and over his arms, onto his shoulders, her eyes looking into his. "Welcome home."
He smiled as he met her gaze, his hands moving languidly over her hips. She had already welcomed him home once, but he had far more than words in mind. "Show me," he told her, dark eyes bright with amusement.
She raised a brow, echoing his amusement in her own gaze. "I wonder, though, have you earned such a demonstration?" she asked playfully. "You come to me filthy and expect me to show you everything?"
"And here I thought you missed me," he said, feigning a pout. He was having just as much fun teasing her as she was teasing him, but the teasing could only go on so long before one or both of them grew tired of it.
"You were the one who missed me first," she pointed out, her reserves of patience renewed now she had seen every inch and knew he had returned to her whole and unharmed. She began to turn away, reaching for the soap.
He spread his arms and leaned back against the bath to relax, as she reached for the soap, assuming she was going to bathe him, as she had alluded to earlier. "I do not deny that I missed you," he said, pausing a moment before adding, "I dreamed of you every night."
"I dread to think what I was doing in your dreams," she said with a low laugh, moving to begin lathering the soap over his skin, taking her time to gently rub away the worked in dirt of the road from his flesh. "Not nightmares, I hope."
He arched a brow at her remark. "Not nightmares, no. What would make you say that?" he asked, curiously. He couldn't remember having any nightmares, where she was concerned. His dreams of her had sometimes been all that had kept him going through the long nights and ever longer days.
"I have offered to kill you a few times, as I recall," she commented with a smile, lowering to her knees in the water to wash his legs beneath the surface.
"And yet, you have not," he pointed out. He seemed content to let her bathe him, making no move to help just yet, merely watching. Perhaps if she was lucky, he would return the favor.
"You have never pushed me beyond the point of the threat," she corrected him. Her eyes were sparkling with affectionate amusement as she set the soap aside, turning her attention to sweeping the suds from his body with nothing but her cupped hands. "Are you sure you wish to test that limit?"
"I do not wish there to be any animosity between us, Sasha," he replied, a worried frown on his face at her question. What was it she was trying to get at exactly? "Have I done something wrong?"
"I don't know, why don't you tell me?" Those sparkling eyes of hers darkened with mischief and desire as she slid herself between his thighs, leaning up to brush a kiss to his lips.
"I have not slept with any whores," he said, ticking off a list in his head. "As I said, I have missed you." He exhaled a sigh as if he was suddenly weary, or maybe he was just relieved to be home, away from the blood of battle. "You cannot possibly know how much I have missed you, askim."
"If it is even half as much as I have missed you, then I am sure I know," she murmured, smoothing her hands along his thighs to his hips. Her nose circled his tenderly. "You take me far too seriously still."
"But if I do not take you seriously when you are being serious, you will get angry with me," Idris pointed out, clearly distracted by her closeness and her caresses, which were only making his desire for her all the more obvious.
"Then perhaps I should teach you more about myself," she suggested in a husky tone, rippling her fingers over his sides under the water. "Shall I wash your hair, too?"
"Perhaps you should," he mumbled, clearly distracted. She could have asked him for anything in the moment and he would have agreed. "Later, “he replied, reaching to draw her even closer. "I have something else in mind," he said, just before his lips captured hers, letting her know in no uncertain terms what it was that he wanted.
This time, there was no hesitation in his wife as he drew her close, no moment of uncertainty as their bare skin touched and pressed closer in the water. Her arms wrapped about him with eager desire of her own, lips parting to deepen his kiss as she wriggled herself up and onto his lap in the warm bath.
Once she was on his lap, his desire for her became all too obvious, and she only had to adjust her position for them to be joined. It was enough to drive him mad with longing, as evidenced by the way he gripped her hips and groaned into her kiss.
One thing he knew about his Sasha - she had no fear once her mind was made up. As he gripped her hips, filling her mouth with the taste of his desire, she shifted just so, and let out a sharp gasp at the new sensation that filled her, tensing in his grasp for a long moment to cling to him through the first flash of expected pain.
He groaned again as she enveloped him in her warmth, exhaling a long sigh, as if there was no better feeling in the world. His hands moved to further guide her, while his kisses deepened with hungry desire.
She trembled in his arms, a vulnerability that only he had ever seen leading her to surrender to him, letting him take charge of her body and his, trusting him with everything she had. "I missed you so much," she whispered against his lips, her breath catching in her throat as they moved together.
"Sasha," he whispered her name like a prayer upon his lips as they moved together as one for the first time. He did not want to hurt her and so, he let her take the lead, doing whatever felt right to her or that gave her pleasure.
"Is this ... is it right?" she asked, unable to keep herself still even to ask that question, unable to stop her kisses from brushing his lips, muffling every sound she made.
"Mmmmm," he murmured in reply, neither confirming or denying, but if the expression on his face and the way his hands grasped her hips were anything to go by, she could assume she was doing just fine.
She had always been a quiet lover, shy of hearing her own voice raised in pleasure, but he was not denied the sound of her voice as she pressed her face to his neck, moaning tenderly with the slow, inexorable rise of desire that only he had ever shown her.
He slid his arms around her to hold her close as she pressed her face to his neck, letting her do as she would. There was no doubt this would end in pleasure for him, but it was more important to him that it was pleasant for her.
"Do as you wish, askim," he whispered, his voice close to her ear. "Do what feels right."
"Guide me," she whispered back to him, her voice pleading even as she shuddered in his arms. "I don't ... I don't know what to do ..."
"Listen to your body," he told her quietly. "Do what makes you feel good." There was really no other way to explain. All she needed to do was keep doing what she was already doing, and let her instincts lead the way.
"I thought this was - was for you," was her breathless response, that innocence she kept hidden from the world showing itself for just a moment. Despite having been raised on a pirate ship and in a harem, she was still painfully sheltered in several ways.
"It is for both of us," he told her, smiling reassuringly, as he ran his fingers up her back and through the silken fall of her hair. He would have been content to remain just like this for as long as she wanted, but it was time she learn what it truly was to be a wife.
Encouraged, she lifted her head once more, pressing her lips to his as her hips began to move with more purpose, seeking out her own pleasure as much as trying to give him what he needed from her, reveling in the feeling of this very tandem adventure they were embarking on together.
He groaned into her kiss again as she moved against him, obviously enjoying it as much as she was - or so he hoped; though in truth, he could no longer think, he could only feel. He had been with women before, but none of them were like Sasha - his Sasha. He had never wanted anyone like he did her; he had never loved anyone like he did her.
And he knew when she had reached her limit. He knew her in ways no one else ever had, or ever would. She had let him deep into her heart and soul, without truly realizing it, and this was the reward - a blissful explosion of shared pleasure that wrapped them both in shaking ecstasy.
"Sasha, Sasha," he whispered, as he went up and over the pinnacle of pleasure, hoping he carried her with him. "I love you," he told her quietly, perhaps for the first time. He wasn't sure what it was that made him say it right then, but he had never felt closer to her than he did at that moment, as though they were one in body, mind, and soul.
Her answer was a simple cry, an eruption of sound far louder, deeper, more longing and loving than he had ever heard from her lips, her arms clinging to him as the world narrowed down to this moment, to him. And even after, as her senses returned and she found herself staring into his eyes, Sasha was overwhelmed by that newfound connection. "I-I love you."
The corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiled back at her, a soft smile, warm and loving. "As I love you," he repeated, brushing her hair back from her face. He seemed as much in wonder of her as she was of him, only realizing in this moment the truth of his words.
"I am sorry I made you wait," she apologized, laughing at herself for this terrible timing in offering up that apology. "I love you, Idris." She kissed him tenderly. "I missed you. Not just this closeness, but you. I missed you being grumpy in the mornings, and having to be dragged home for meals, and arguing with you over stupid things. I missed being around you."
His smile softened, touched by her confession. "I missed you, too. He told her. I missed the way you argue with me over nothing. And the way you steal the blankets, but then curl up against me in the middle of the night. I missed the way you insist you are just as worthy as any man with a blade. I missed you, Sasha. There is no other woman quite like you."
"And you are sure you would not rather have a passionate, obedient wife like Merrim?" she asked, her eyes wicked with that tease, lips curving in a smile to match.
He chuckled at that, sliding his arms around her again to hold her close against his chest. "I am sure. I want no one but you," he assured her, kissing the top of her head.
She nestled into his arms affectionately. "And what if we have just created someone else?" she asked softly. "Would you want them?"
"Someone else?" he echoed, looking a little confused for a moment before he realized what she meant. "Oh, you mean a child." His smiled returned, a reassuring sign. "I would like us to have children someday, when the goddess allows."
"So would I," she whispered. He might have noticed that wish in her eyes when he'd found her playing with the prince and his best friend in the fountain earlier that day.
"I saw the way you were playing with the children," he told her. He had been far too eager to see her to pay the children much heed, but he would make up for that soon enough.
She laughed softly. "I enjoy them," she admitted. "They expect so little of me, and giving up my energy for them allows Safi and Teres to relax a little at the mid-point of the day."
"I am sure you would enjoy one of your own," he told her, dark eyes warm with affection. Would he be disappointed if she were to become pregnant? No, just the opposite.
"I cannot deny that I would," she agreed softly. "It is not a role I ever considered myself in, but ... I would be very proud to bear your children, askim."
"Yes, but ... I do not want you to have children just for my sake," he told her, a little confused. Did she want to have children because it was something she was proud to do or because she wanted children?
"I never truly considered it," she said quietly, her fingers gently stroking through his beard as she spoke. "When I thought I would be a concubine, I despised the thought of bringing a child into the world. And I did not want to bear the children of a man who married me only because he was ordered to. But with you ... I would like to have children, to raise them with the love we share."
His beard had grown a bit wild while he'd been away, and it was more than a bit tangled, but he was far too vain to leave it that way for long, now that he was home. His smile softened, her words touching his heart. "I never thought much about having children either, but I would like us to have a family together."
"Then we shall," she said, meeting his eyes with a tender smile. "Whenever the Goddess decides we are ready." And perhaps having a child to love when he was away would make those absences easier, on her at the very least.
"Yes, but I do not need the Goddess to tell us that the bath is getting cold," he said, a flash of teeth in a smirk behind the beard. "Shall we?"
"I have yet to wash your hair," she pointed out, but his comment had galvanized her into action, reaching for the jug and the soap to make the most of having him captive beneath her for a moment.
"But the water is ..." he started, trailing off as she dumped a jug of water over his head, soaking his hair and face and beard. "... cold," he spluttered.
She grinned at him as he spluttered. "I'll be quick," she promised, massaging the soap through his hair and beard to wash away the grime and grease of his travels.
"Is it that bad?" he asked of his own appearance. He knew he was grimy and sweaty from the journey, but he'd been in a hurry to get home. He had missed her more than even he cared to admit.
"I would not call it bad," she assured him. "But you did not look your best." She kissed the tip of his nose. "Close your eyes, and I will wash the soap out."
"As you say, wife," he told her, obediently closing his eyes so that she could drown him in cold water a second time. Of course, he'd had far worse. He'd been bathing in rivers and streams while he'd been on patrol, and that water was far colder than this.
She was as quick as she promised to be, rinsing out the soap before gently pulling him up from the bath and wrapping a drying linen enough him. "There. Are you content now?"
"I am content to be home and with you," he told her as he moved to his feet, water dripping off them both, and wrapped linen about his waist. "And you?" he asked, as he reached for another towel so he could do the same for her.
"Perhaps when I wake to find you beside me in the morning, I will be," she said, unwilling to lie to him. There was a lingering worry that he might suddenly be taken away from her again.
"I am not going anywhere for a while, Sasha," he assured her, sliding his arms around her waist to draw her close. He was tired from the journey, but there was something about being close to her that made him feel invigorated.
"I have grown used to being alone again," she admitted quietly. "I do not like it." Rising onto her toes, she kissed him affectionately.
He might have said something had she not distracted him with a kiss, which he was more than happy to share. He let his kiss speak for him, assuring her without saying so that he was right there.
As the kiss ended, she was wrapped tight in his arms, enjoying the protective, possessive embrace in a way she had never allowed herself to before now. "You know you will have to present yourself for the morning meal with the king."
"I will worry about that in the morning," he said, kissing her again, before scooping her up in his arms to take her to bed. Tonight was about them. Everything and everyone else could wait.