When they had met, it had been as representatives of different world, different cultures, a coming together of allies in war. Yet that night, and every night that had followed, those differences were slowly swept aside, until they were not so much two halves as one whole, bound together by more than anyone could put a name to. Yet until this night, certain words had not been spoken. Liayna lifted her eyes to Conall's gaze, her hand warm against his cheek. "I love you, eniro," she whispered to him, her promise that she would come to love him fulfilled at long last.
Conall smiled at the words he'd longed to hear from her - words he'd felt in his heart for so long and that he knew she felt, too, but hadn't said. Words were meaningless, inadequate, unable to truly encompass and define all they felt in their hearts, and yet, those few words meant so much. "I love you, aera," he whispered back, words he'd shared many times before, if not aloud than in his heart. This was a special night for the Wild Ones - a night that would only come once every half decade, a night when the True Queen would join with one of their own, whether Rory knew it or not, and the link between their people would be secured.
As if in answer to their shared words, the child in her womb quickened, making her laugh as she drew her arms about her beloved once again. "What shall we call our daughter?" she asked him in a low voice, nuzzling close, finding it only too easy to shut out the sounds of the lively camp all around them.
"Hmm, I do not know," he replied, close enough to feel the child move within her. "What do you wish to be called, small one?" he asked, laying a hand against his mate's womb, as if by doing so, he might have an answer. "Perhaps we should ask Kari for a name," he suggested. Names were important, but there was still plenty of time to decide.
Liayna looked down at his hand on the smooth swell of her belly, leaning into him tenderly as she smiled. "There are many names we could give her," she mused. "Names from the old speech, or from the new. She will be na'Kari Riordan, a child of both worlds. Perhaps we should choose a name that will reflect it."
"Perhaps," he agreed, though it did not seem he was overly worried about a name just yet. He had faith that the Goddess would give them a name when the time was right. It was a far cry from the man he'd been only a few short months ago, when he had doubted the existence of any higher power, whether it be that of the Nine worshiped by Arctrans, or the Goddess worshiped by the Wild Ones. "I do not think we need decide such a thing tonight, aera," he teased.
She laughed, shaking her curly head in agreement. "No, I do not think she will demand a name until she has need of it," she agreed cheerfully. Her hand covered his as she looked up at him. "You have never asked how it is we know that our first child will be a daughter, eniro."
"I have often wondered," he replied. Though he wasn't quite sure how she knew, he thought it had something to do with the connection between mother and daughter - a connection he could never really understand and only envy. He took her by the hand and drew her gently closer to the small fire he had built not far from the camp, where he'd set their tent for the night. He'd fashioned a makeshift chair for them there, made of wood and covered in fur to keep them warm and dry and comfortable and it was to that chair that he now drew her, reluctant to seek refuge inside the tent just yet, despite the chill of winter.
Drawn away from the clamor to their own slice of quiet, settled down on the warm furs that covered a chair that took both of them easily, Liayna smiled once again, laying her head on his shoulder. "It is a gift of the Goddess," she said quietly. "Leniniya gave Kari two sons and a daughter; only my father gave her a grandchild of them all. Her mother also bore a daughter first. Our first child will be a daughter of the moons; who is to say how many more will follow?"
Another might have scoffed at such an explanation, but Conall had seen for himself what the Goddess was capable of. "I will give you as many children as you wish, aera," he answered, smiling softly at her in the moonlight, as he tucked the furs around them to keep them warm. Between the furs, the fire, and their closeness, there was little chance of either of them catching a chill, no matter how cold was the night. "She has given me many gifts, the greatest of which is your love." He leaned close to touch a kiss to her lips, light and loving. There was no hurry to share their passion as the others in camp were doing - the proof of their passion lie with the child that was growing within Liayna's womb.
Leaning into him, her answering kiss was soft, as unhurried as his own. Where others around them chose the frenzy of passion, it was something quite different to be mated in the ways of the Wild Ones. There was room for that frenzy, certainly, but no need for it in the full light of the moons. The Goddess Moon was no different; a time to share and celebrate what they had that was so very different to what many of the clansmen and women had. Tucked close, she drew her long legs, bare in the moonlight, over his lap, curling closer as she stroked her fingers over his heart. "You are the greatest gift of my life, eniro," she murmured to him, brushing her lips against his cheek. "I am glad my father sent me to meet with you."
While others might choose partners for only one night, the Goddess had given them the gift of a love and a bond that would last for a lifetime. He tucked the furs about her as she drew her legs across his lap, his hand falling to rest against the swell of their child growing inside her. "And I am glad Liam sent me to meet you, though I think the Goddess may have had something to do with those decisions, aera," he teased further, his eyes shining with joy and just a little moonlight.
She giggled softly, nestled close against him. "I do not think your friend would agree with you," she smiled, enjoying their closeness, the protective affection that held his hand over their child in her womb. "He does not seem to have much belief in anything beyond his love, the queen, and the right way of things." Not that it mattered, truly; if the Goddess had chosen Liam to be Her instrument, his own beliefs mattered very little to the clans who loved Her.
"It would not be the only thing we have disagreed about," he replied, though it mattered little, so long as the result was the same. "Liam is a practical man. He only believes that which can be seen and proven with his own eyes, but there is more to him than there seems." He paused a moment, as if debating how much to tell her of his closest friend's secrets. "If you look closely," he started, seemingly having come to a decision. "There is a crescent-shaped scar on his left hand, which matches one of Shaye's. I asked him about it once, and he told me he had made a solemn oath to Thalan and the moon, but he would not discuss it further."
Liayna's brows rose as she considered this. "He swore an oath to the Goddess' son?" Her lips curved in a smile that brightened as she thought more on it. "Then it is no wonder that he has come so far. And no wonder that Shaye has survived so much. Arctrans believe they have Nine gods, yet only two are real. Thalan, and his twin, Hano ... they are the children of the Goddess. Perhaps your friend and his wife were chosen long before either one could have known what was coming, simply for a oath made in the light of the moon, to the Lightbearer."
"Perhaps," Conall replied, himself inclined to believe it. "Though if you were to tell him so, he would scoff," he added with a wry grin. "As long as I have known him, there is only one who truly knows his heart. I am not sure what they swore together, but whatever it was, that bond was strong enough to hold them together when they were far apart, and to find them and bring them back together again, despite the odds. I, for one, do not believe it was chance that found them or made them who they are, nor I think does he, though he will hardly admit it."