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AN - A brief snippet of the next book is the next chapter...but before that enjoy the last chapter of Artair's book!! I hope you will join me on further with my Highland series. Az x


Over one year later...

Coming awake slowly to the soft snuffles and cooing sounds of a bairn. Who was not screaming out her need to be seen too immediately, he pushed himself up off of his stomach to turn his head around towards the sound. Confused as to why he had not woken to the murderous screams of his days old daughter. It had come to be a routine of sorts at night, he would wake to the screams and his movements would awaken Rohesia. But this night, Rohesia walked in front of the main hearth. The curtained partition of their single room cottage pulled back, the hearth's fire roaring cheerily, as mother and daughter paced back and forth before it.

With a smile on his face, he twisted to his side, propping his head on his hand in order to watch his wife move. Her body had changed drastically with her pregnancy, and with each part of her that rounded he just found her all the more attractive. Not that she liked it, complaining constantly of her size and 'how could he like her when she look so large?' His simple answer was; how could he not? Especially when she was keeping safe the tiny life she kept safe in her arms right at that moment.

A daughter with a splash of sunshine hair and sky blue eyes, he had to admit he thought she had to be the most beautiful bairn the clan had ever seen. Not that Cam or Hamish agreed with him. Though Aonghus tended to agree, if he made the stipulation of her being the most beautiful 'female' bairn. Two against two...in Artair's eyes, that meant he won. Because he definitely had won.

A bare week after the roof had been prepared and he and Rohesia had settled into the cottage, she had sat him down to talk. They had ended up spending the entire night talking. Him telling her of the darkest parts of himself. The parts he had never even let Aonghus see. The torment that he went through from the 'jobs' that he had completed for Toren. His previous life, a life before her, when the pain he inflicted only caused a black hole within himself. A life which he had thought would send her running, instead left her in tears but fighting for him, cursing Toren and telling him just how much she loved him. His heart had sung that morn, as the sun had risen and Rohesia had truly become his in every way and owning every part of his soul.

Now, with their growing family, there was nothing else he wanted. His soul may never be fully clean, but he could at least accept that Rohesia actually wanted him without any hesitation. Now the night before a wedding nobody ever thought would happen, one that the clan was sure to talk of for generations to come, all he wanted was to be with his wife and bairn. Throw all the rest to the devil for all he cared, for if that couple loved as much as he loved his wife, then there was no need for them to show it in such a big way. For love...well love for Artair was the subtle way that Rohesia always knew when to look in his direction to make sure that he was alright. Or the way his daughter settled when he stroked the shell of her ear repeatedly...just like her mother. The last was thought with such a large smile covering his face, there was no way he could hide it as Rohesia turned to face him. Not that he would ever want to.

Rohesia returned his smile, gently rocking back and forth, rolling from one foot to the other. His bairn looking around her at all the new and exciting sights and sounds which surrounded her. She was inquisitive, even at such a young age, pride surged through him. He knew he was being a new father in everything his bairn doing, in his mind at least, being the best thing ever to have been achieved by a bairn. But what could he say, at barley a week old his daughter was the most intelligent, beautiful being to have ever been created. "Sorry, I did not mean to wake you." The almost silent words of his wife washed over him as he looked back up into her radiant face. Motherhood suited her. She was built to care. Now that love was shared between two, but Artair wanted very much for that to be shared between many more...but Artair would not share his feelings on quite how many bairns he wanted when the birth of his first was still a little too raw in both their minds.

Waiting for her to look at him once more, he smiled wider, "You did not. Senga or rather her lack of wailing did." Both of them took a moment to look at their wide eyed daughter. Her little fists clenched together at her chest as her little legs flailed back and forth but not in any sort of anger or discontentment, she was quite content in her mother's arms. Just as Artair had been only hours before hand. She may still be feeling sore form the birth, but that did not stop him from just wanting to hold her in his arms. To make sure that she was safe while he held her close.

"Her lack of crying woke you. You do realise what you said there, do you not?" A sharp laugh escaped him. "Aye I do. But it is the truth all the same." Collapsing to his back, he threw his arm over his eyes, a loud sigh breaking free from his chest. It was extremely late. Or very earlier. Either way, it was not natural to have so little sleep. How all the others had done this with their bairns, well only now was he realising the ribbings and jests he had made were totally uncalled for over the jaw cracking yawns that followed them throughout the day. "I am supposed to be asleep right now." The words were barely a breath of sound, words with which his mind and body completely agreed.

"The sleep, I have Senga settled, she just wants to see the world a little more before going back to sleep." With a smile, he heaved his arm from his face. It took a moment of silence...then another, before with a frown Artair turned to face Rohesia once more, her back towards him as she walked past the flames once more. As she turned to walk back once more, there was a gleam in her eye as she caught his gaze on her. "Rohesia, how did you see my words when my arm would have been blocking my lips."

Her bottom lip tucked itself between her teeth for a moment, her eyes looking down upon the babe in her arms. He sat up slightly his elbows beneath him. "Rohesia." In a flash her eyes met his.

This time he sat up fully. "Rohesia...did you just..." Her bottom lip had indentations once she let it pop free. "No..." His frown crumpled his face further. "Yes..." She looked around as if the walls knew the words she needed to say, but they were not revealing them to her.

"It is strange. Not quite hearing. Not quite not hearing. I do not know how to explain." The exasperation was clear.

Not completely understanding, but not quite keeping his excitement at bay, he waited until she set her sights back upon him once more. "How long has this, not quite hearing being happening?"

"About a month." The admission was whisper soft.

"A month." He stood now, as bare as the day he was born, the blankets left in a puddle behind him. "Why did you not say anything?" He could not stop the tiny pinprick of betrayal at the knowledge she had kept something from him.

"I thought I was going mad. Not understanding what was happening. But knew that it was strange. I went to see Sheena after it started happening. She said the block that had been in place was dissipating, as if a wall was crumbling down slowly. I did not want to say anything until I was certain. The majority of the time I cannot hear a sound. But every so often, I get a nudge as if I know what is being said, or a sound will filter through as if through water." Her words sped up the more she talked, a fear and hope mixed together in her voice that had the betrayal softening within him, she had struggled, but he understood why she had needed to keep this alone. He was just selfish in the knowledge that she did not come to him directly.

She walked towards him, reaching out to place his daughter in his arms. "I am sorry, Artair. I did not want to get your hopes up as mine were. But I do not know if it will stay like this, get better, or go back to how my life has been for years. I just did not want you to think I was lying to you."

She reached out to stroke the back of Senga's cheek, when she looked up at him once more, he in turn reached out to cup her cheek. "I just want you, whether you are able to hear or not is not the reason I love you. It is you just you." He laughed a little. "Well, you and this one here. If it was not for all of this I do not know who I would be right now. So no I do not need you to hear, I just need you to be who you are. That is all I can ever want."

Rohesia let herself be pulled into an embrace by Artair. Their daughter still wide eyed and watchful between them. Knowing that she need not worry, hope or fear the future. Because all she had was right now and right now...right now her life was very good indeed.

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