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Children. Tien Mikin is very unsure about this entire mother-child role, but she's figured out you have to get out of bed when the child

screams. The lack of a wetnurse means the woman's left to play the part herself, and that's how at one o'clock in the morning, the

noblewoman is sitting in a small rocking chair with her newborn son held to her breast. It would almost seem the pair are asleep, Tien's

head laying back against the chair as she slowly rocks the pair.


Nikolaes rolls over to try to watch them in the dim light, propping his head up with one hand, elbow indenting the pillow. His mouth

curves into a sleepy, contented smile as he hears the chair quietly creak with Tien's movements.


For a long moment, there are no more creaks as Tien manages to fall asleep, her son fading with her. It seems the boy hasn't learned

manners yet, however, and soon wakes up his mother with another cry. "By the Light," the new mother mutters, pulling the child away and

fixing her dress. "Aren't you ever happy?" she asks the little bundle.


"Takes after his mother," comes the amused voice from the bed. Nik's teeth show whitely in the dimness. "Shall I have a turn at the

rocker, my beauty?" the man suggests.


"If it means I shall sleep, I shall not complain," Tien answers with a groan, standing from the chair. "And I'll have you know, Lord

Zahir, that I have never once complained as often as this little creature," she reminds, although the words "little creature" seem to be

affectionate enough.


Nikolaes pushes himself to the edge of the bed and swings his feet over to the cool floor, pants whispering against the sheets. He's

taken to wearing them since Tien gave birth in hopes that it will ease any fears she has of him coming to claim his husbandly right

before she's healed. Nonetheless, his chest is bare. He'd rather wear the pants than a nightshirt. "True enough," he agrees with his

wife. "Though it is a close race..."


Tien, on the other hand, thinks that sinful business is all over with now that a son has been conceived and delivered. It doesn't stop

her from enjoying the warm body beside her at nights, cuddling up once Nikolaes seems to be asleep. The child is shoved out towards the

Zahir. "Take your son," she mutters. "And be thankful you're not the one responsible for feeding him."


The man's own awkwardness with the babe has gone now that he's had a bit of practice.. and plenty of helpful advice from the servants.

"Shh, little Kole," his low voice soothingly says to the crying child. "Shhhh. Mama's not mad at you. She's like that all the time."

There's a twinkle in his eyes as he cradles his son in the crook of his strong arm. The boy hiccups and fusses, no longer wailing as his

father eases into the rocking chair. "Oh, yes. I agree, son. She -is- the most beautiful woman we've ever seen."


"Oh, Mama's mad," Tien answers as she crawls back into the bed, pulling the blankets over her head. Her voice can be heard, however,

through the thick blankets. "Mama is going to have to go to the priest and confess every last awful thought Mama's had regarding Father."


The chair begins creaking again as Nik starts to slowly rock. The tiny baby still fusses, little fists squirming. "And what is Mama going

to confess?" the Zahir encourages with a grin.


"That Father is an awful Zahir that tricked Mama into a terrible life of being woken up in the middle of the night and demanded for like

a common servant by something that can't even /speak/," Tien answers, although her voice lacks any true bitterness. "He should have let

Mama join the Church."


"Do you hear that, little Kole?" Nik genially asks his quieting son as he languidly rocks them both in the chair. "Mama would rather have

joined the church than to have Father make love to her. She doesn't like us, I think," he says in mock sorrow. "Woe unto us, little man.

The most beautiful lady Tien would rather spend her time at Church than in our company."


"Mama likes Kole well enough," Tien answers with a grunt. A rather unladylike, middle of the night grunt. "Mama doesn't like the fact

that Father left big holes in her education about the way Mama had to go about /getting/ Kole. I'm sure the priest'll assign thirty

lashes for that one, at /least/."


"Big holes in your education?" Nikolaes curiously inquires, trying to keep the amusement from his voice. "Mama wanted Father to discuss

such *scandalous* subjects with her _before_ she was married? Mama never would have stood for it!"


"Is your son asleep or not?" Tien asks pointedly, pulling the blanket off of her head. "Mama is tired, Nikolaes Zahir. Mama demands that

Father come lay in bed and provide heat. Kole has had Father long enough."


Nikolaes mutters toward his quietly snoozing son, "And Kole has been rather selfish about his use of Mama's breasts." The man cautiously

eases up from the rocking chair with the baby cradled close. He carefully moves to the cradle with the precious bundle in hopes he

doesn't awaken.


This causes Tien to sit straight up in bed, the blankets thrown back. "Pardon me, Lord Zahir?" the noblewoman asks, confusion on her

face. "I will simply pretend I did not hear that last comment."


"Very well," Nik agreeably replies, hiding a grin as he bends to place his son into his comfortable cradle. His strong hands move gently

to cover the child so he will be warm. Then, all cautious movement is gone. The Zahir takes a step away from the cradle and leaps toward

the bed and the woman within it, landing opposite her with a protest from the bedding as it is violently bounced.


"Oof! Nikolaes Zahir, are you /five/?" Tien shouts, trying to hide the laughter that fills her voice. She scoots over on the bed, making

room for the playful man. Kole lets out a little cry, but it fades soon enough. "You'll wake up our son."


"*I'm* not the one who made the noise," Nik teasingly responds, voice low. His grin is rakish as he nestles into the bed with Tien,

drawing up the blankets. He curls closer to her, rolling to his side to slide one arm about her waist. "Now then... you needed warming?"


"You must be good for something," Tien mutters as she snuggles down in the bed, pulling the blankets up towards her chin. She gives

another glance towards Kole. "I have at least fifteen minutes before he wants fed again.."


"Then come here, my lady wife," the man murmurs, reaching a hand to gently touch her chin in an attempt to turn her face toward his own.

"That is enough time for me to thoroughly kiss you."


One finger is held up beside Nikolaes' head. "One kiss," Tien officially warns before turning her head and brushing her lips against the

Zahir's with butterfly-wing softness.


Nikolaes smiles against the woman's mouth for the barest instant before he begins to return her kiss with delicate tenderness. His mouth

covers her own in warm possession, making much more of the kiss than she'd intended.


"Nik," Tien grumbles even as she lifts her hands to thread in the man's hair. She allows the kiss to continue for some time before she

pulls away, her cheeks flushed. "You are a lustful, Shadow-bound man, Nik," she chides playfully.


"I will admit to being lustful," he agrees with a smile as he looks down into her face. "But I refuse to be Shadow-bound just because I

adore my wife. Love is blessed by the Light - just as our marriage is. And it is good to lust after one's wife! Better that than

another... wouldn't you agree?"


"You shall not lust after another," Tien answers, her light blue eyes flashing dark as she gives a light tug to Nikolaes' hair. "Do you

understand? I will not permit it."


"You are quite right," Nik states as he slides further into the covers and wraps his arms about his wife's torso. "I shall not. There's

no point, really, when one is married to the most beautiful woman in all of Fastheld and she's given one a child."


"You are a blind man, Nik," Tien answers, laughter in her voice as she cuddles close to her husband, sliding one leg between his. "I

suppose I should thank the Light for that one small gift. I am proud I have given you a son."


Nikolaes tilts his head to try to nibble at Tien's ear for an instant. "When you're feeling better," he murmurs there in a low drawl.

"How about we work on a daughter?"


A quick gasp escapes Tien's lips, even as she leans forward to brush her skin against Nikolaes' seeking lips. "I thought I was through

with this business!" she proclaims. "I provided you with a son!"


"Yes, you did," Nik murmurs near to her ear and almost against her neck. "I suppose now you'll want me to sleep in the other room all the

time?"


"You can sleep here," Tien answers, her fingers stroking at the soft locks they're caught in. "I wouldn't deny you that luxury, my lord."


Nikolaes' arms draw Tien firmly close to him in the bed, letting their warmth mingle. He rests his forehead against her neck as he

exhales. "Thank the Light for small miracles," he murmurs, drowsily amused. "Sweet dreams, sweet wife."


"Sleep well, Father," Tien answers, amusement in her voice as she closes her dancing eyes. She affords one last peek over in Kole's

direction, however, just before she drifts off. "Good night, child," she murmurs.

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