Belle felt his lips on her neck first, the tiniest of nips, then his husky whisper. "You summoned me?"
She turned around to face him, a flirtatious smile played about her lips. "Charnos."
He bowed slightly. "At your service."
"Give me word of the Borderlands, are things going as planned?"
He smirked. "But of course, did I not say I would do all that you requested?" He shrugged carelessly. "It is all so pathetically easy, really. That King of yours..."
"He is no King of mine." She hissed.
He grinned slyly. "So you say." Belle glared at him, but he merely laughed, his green eyes gleamed in the fading light.
"My hunters tear them to shreds during the night, and during the day we take these weak, frail bodies," He pinched at his arm, "and the King and his Knights do not even give us a second glance."
Belle ran her eyes down his body slowly. "I am rather fond of the human form that you take."
His grin was quick and predatory. "It has its uses. Some very pleasurable." His voice had deepened again, and Belle felt her blood quicken.
She licked her lips. "Indeed."
"I could end this war now, and kill the King. It would be so easy..."
His words wrapped themselves around in her head like a seductive snake, tempting and deadly. She laughed them off. "Charnos, when will you ever learn that your mind persuasion powers will not work on me. No, " she said decisively. "He must not be killed, I need him alive. I want to see him suffer, to feel the pain as I take away everything he holds dear."
He inclined his head. "As you wish."
She moved a little closer to him. "I love how you say those words." She whispered. She held out a small box to him, and Charnos took it, puzzled. "I need this little gift left for the new princeling, make sure his mother finds it first."
He looked at the box, and then at her. "What is it? Some type of poison? An adder maybe?"
Belle smiled. "That lacks...imagination. No, I have something much better in mind. An innocent little christening gown, the perfect gift for the new prince." She cackled. "I only wish I could see her face, when she opens it. Since I cannot, I will have to content myself with picturing her face instead."
"Consider it done."
"Does this conclude our business?"
She smiled knowingly at him. "It does."
His green eyes darkened. "Excellent." He copied her earlier words as he grabbed her forcefully.
Belle exulted in the rough hands that tore at her ties, and the animal grunts that betrayed who he really was, the King of the beasts. While she was with him, she had no room for thoughts of Morgan, or thoughts of any kind. She could only feel; the hard rock beneath her back, the cold air on her bare skin, and his hot breath as he trailed beard roughened kisses down her body.
"Are you sure it was up here?" Ava's soft voice said behind him. "I have looked through all of these boxes and chests, and I cannot find it anywhere."
Morgan frowned. "Yes, this is where it supposed to be. I wonder why it is not here?"
Ava sighed sadly. "Taliesin's baptism is less than a week away. I had so hoped he could wear the christening gown that all the kings in your family have worn for a hundred years or more. Family tradition is important to me." She tried not to feel too disappointed, it was hardly Morgan's fault that the family heirloom had disappeared.
Morgan pulled her into his arms, and kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry Ava, I'll find it for you." he said reassuringly.
Ava looked up at her husband. "You would make me very happy if you found it."
"Would I get a reward if I found it?" He grinned down at her.
She smiled coyly at him. "Maybe."
Morgan pretended to think for a moment. "I believe I may need a deposit on that reward, as motivation you understand."
Ava laughed softly. "Motivation, huh?" She grabbed his hand. "Then follow me my Lord."
"I would follow you anywhere." Morgan vowed. "But our bedchamber is my favorite place to follow you to." He grinned at her, and she swatted at him. Laughing they both raced for the bedroom.
The morning of Taliesin's baptism dawned clear and cold. Ava shivered as she stepped outside, she would have to wrap Talesin in extra blankets to keep him warm. Her gaze fell on a small package that sat slightly to the left of the front door. Curious, she bent down and picked it up.
She shook it gently but it didn't make any noise. She smiled.
She knew what it was! Hadn't Morgan told her he would find the christening gown for her in time for Taliesin's baptism? It would be just like him to wrap it all up, pretty like, just so he could surprise her. He loved giving her little surprise gifts. She had not taken him too seriously when he claimed he would find it, she had even reconciled herself to starting a new tradition. How could she ever have doubted him?
A slight breeze blew through, ruffling her hair and a piece of paper that was attached to the gift. She looked closer at the paper. It had writing on it, a note of some sort.
She picked the note up, smiling in anticipation at some silly nonsense that Morgan would pen her, but her face fell as she read the words.
I sent the christening gown to you as soon as I could. I hope it reaches you in time. T is so excited about having a little brother. I have tried to explain things to him, but he is still young yet and does not understand the ways of our world. We both miss you terribly, and cannot wait until you can come visit us again. My bed is lonely without you.
All my love and affection.
Ava crumpled the note up in her hand. She opened the gift up, and inside, was indeed, the christening gown. She stared at it. What to make of the note? M, did that mean Morgan? It must have, it was on their doorstep. Did Morgan have another child? Though she had not asked him to, he had sworn he would be faithful to only her. Had he gone back on his word? He had also said he would find the christening gown for her. Had he remembered that night where it was? Who was B? The questions kept coming, bombarding her heart and her emotions. She resolved to ask him about it after Taliesin's baptism.
Sunlight poured through the windows of the Church Sanctuary. Some of the Nobles had shown up early, but for the most part the sanctuary was still empty and peaceful. Ava smiled at the little boy she held in her arms. Today he would be dedicated to the Ever Living One, the first step towards recognizing him as the next king. The baptism would be witnessed by the whole town, and a guardian assigned to him.
Once everyone had gathered into the room, Turin started to speak. "Today, we are all gathered here as witnesses, to consecrate..."
"Ava, what is wrong?" Morgan asked. He had noticed a slight change in her behavior towards him since early this morning, and he couldn't figure out the reasoning of it. Wasn't the christening gown found in time? He had no idea how it had reappeared, but he had assumed it's appearance would make her happy. Instead she looked a bit sad and lost.
Ava refused to look at him. "Is it true Morgan, that you have another child?"
Morgan choked. "Say wh...where did that come from?" He was flabbergasted.
She looked at him then, briefly, and he saw tears shimmering in her eyes. "Just answer me Morgan, please. Do you have another child?"
Morgan hesitated, he thought briefly of the child that Belle had lost, he could have had another child, but he did not. He shook his head no. "No Ava, Taliesin is my only child."
Ava heard the hesitation, and misunderstood the reason for it. She felt her heart shatter inside her. All those years she had thought they were happy, even when she thought she could not conceive, she had thought they were happy together. Instead it had all been a lie. Every moment of it. Every kiss, every touch, all lies.
No wonder he had seem unconcerned over the issue of not having an heir. He had known that he already had a son, with someone else. Ava wanted to rage at him, to hit him, to demand the answers of why he would go to such an elaborate charade. She had been content with the thought of a companionable marriage, a child or two, but no, he had to go and make her want more. He had to go and make her fall in love with him.
She said none of what she wanted to say, and she did none of the things she wanted to do. Instead, she said, quite calmly, "Do you have a mistress? Another lover tucked away some where?"
Morgan frowned. He didn't understand where these questions were coming from. He was losing her and he didn't understand why. "Ava, " he said exasperated. "What is going on? Why..."
"Just answer my question, Morgan."
"No." he said, almost angrily. "I said I would be faithful to you, and I have been."
She smiled sadly at him. "Thank you Morgan. I hear Talesin, I must see to his needs."
"This conversation is not over!" he called out to her retreating back.
Ava didn't bother answering. The conversation was over as far as she was concerned. Now she just needed to figure out how she was going to live with this new knowledge of hers. Her whole married life had been a lie.
After a couple of weeks of stony silence, Morgan finally left it alone, and hopeful that with time, Ava would finally talk to him, he reluctantly went back to fighting the war in the Borderlands. Ava cried herself to sleep every night, sure that she had driven her husband back into his lover's arms. Yet she had been unable to do anything else, the hurt was a live and festering thing inside of her.
She had no energy for putting on a birthday bash for her son, so when it was his birthday, they celebrated it alone. Just him and her. She told herself it was what she wanted.
She even believed it, most days. But sometimes when she looked at Taliesin's bright happy smile, he looked so much like his father, her heart would break all over again. And she would wish. She would wish that Morgan had been true, that he had not lied, that it had not been an act on his part. That they really had been happy.
Those days were the hardest. Taliesin would seem to sense her unhappiness, and crawl towards her. "Mama! Mama! Sad?" She would pick him up, and his little arms would go around her, and she would breath in his baby scent. She would remember then, to count her blessings. She had Taliesin. She stifled any thoughts that dared suggest she should or could want more. Taliesin was enough.
She loved everything about being Taliesin's mother. He was smart, and so curious, and he was constantly getting into things. Or escaping out into the yard, where Rags would bark and chase down a giggling Taliesin.
Both dog and boy would collapse in a heap on the grass, one full of giggles, the other panting, content to lay on Taliesin's lap until Ava could come fetch him.
"Tal, you naughty little boy." She would scold him as she picked him up. Rags would dance and bark about her feet. "No outside without Mama, remember?"
Ava did her best to keep up with an energetic Taliesin, but she found her energy flagging, and her stomach was in a constant state of upset. The smell of potty training was almost more than she could take.
"I big boy Mama!"
"Yes you are." she agreed, with her hand over mouth and nose, trying not to breath the scent in. Taliesin thought she was playing and copied her muffled voice, by placing his hand over his mouth and nose.
"Yes you are." He parroted. His big eyes were smiling at her over the top of his small hand.
Ava smiled at him, and tickled him. "You silly goose."
She was afraid to hope, but she thought she just might be pregnant again. Her breasts were tender, her stomach rebelled all hours of the day, and she was just so tired, she could happily sleep all day. If she was, it would truly be a miracle, for she had not taken any herbs for it, nor had she slept with her husband since the night before Taliesin's baptism.
She missed him terribly. She missed his sense of humor, his silliness, his laugh, the way his eyes crinkled when he found something amusing. She missed his tender looks, his strong arms around her at night, his soft kisses, and his more passionate ones too. Was his lover the recipient of these things? Was he even now, with her and their son?
Ava sighed wearily. She was so confused. She alternately hated him, and loved him, she didn't know what to do, or how to bridge the gulf between them. Some times she didn't want to bridge that gulf, and in those times she despised her weakness for him. But those other days, when Tal smiled at her, with his father's smile, or his eyes crinkled with humor just like Morgan's, she was hit with an intense longing for him.
She had written him of her suspicions, that she might be pregnant. She had no idea if he had received her letter or not, or if he would even come home. She hoped he came home. She laid back on the couch and closed her eyes. She was just so tired. She felt Taliesin climb up beside her and she gathered him in her arms. And they slept.
Notes: Taliesin is so adorable! =) Okay, I got that off my chest, lol
Ignore the fact that there likely wouldn't be white boxes wrapped in red bows during this time, it sticks out like a sore thumb to me, but there was no other way I could think of to do what I wanted, lol Darn gift thing is not even recolorable!
I had fun creating Charnos, finding the right skin for him was tricky. Too many of the ones I have installed made him too pretty. I didn't want him to be too pretty, lol I was going for seductive, good looking with a hint of evil. And his hair! I was finally able to use that hair! I think it suits him and his evil genius side! As to what kind of beastie he may be, he is a shapeshifter, but his real form is an unknown kind of beastie. I haven't made up a name for it yet, lol I'm just throwing all kinds of powers/behaviors in there. A sort of werewolf/vampire/dragon/warlock type, lol Whatever he is, it isn't good, lol He's the King over the other beasties, and as you read, he is partners in crime with Belle. They are a matched pair.
Belle's little gift. I spent the last month thinking about that. I hate it when I write myself into corners, lol But the characters were talking and it was all I could do to keep up! But then I had to figure out, what in the world would she send as a gift. It would have to be special. Then a couple of nights ago, in the middle of the night, I woke up, and I thought christening gown! And I went from there. She knows the Castle very well, and she knows about the gown, (she was going to marry Morgan at one time!). It would be easy for her to get someone to fetch it for her, so that is how it came into her possession.
I titled it Betrayed, because that is how Ava feels, whether it is true or not.
Thanks for reading!! =)