Fourteen

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Augustus, the King of the West left the next day. His task of securing a peace achieved and other affairs of the kingdom required his attention. Neither Ewen nor Freya were saddened by his departure. Although successful, his visit had been a source of tension. Even in parting he could not resist a final barbed comment.

As Augustus stood at the side of his great war horse, ready to mount, he turned to Ewen and Freya who stood at the top of the main stairs and gave them the customary blessing for travel.

'My Lord and Lady I wish you light and life.'

Ewen and Freya returned his greeting.

As Augustus turned again to mount, he paused briefly as if contemplating his next words.

'Be forewarned,' he said calmly to Ewen, 'should she not be with child within the year you have been allocated I shall claim the right to marry her as is our custom.'

Ewen stood dead still next to Freya. Not a noise could be heard in the great courtyard. Ewen laughed suddenly.

'Don't be so confident of having that opportunity,' he responded. 'She will be with child within the year.'

Augustus smiled coldly as he mounted his great horse and pulled down his chain mail helmet. Without any further words he left the eastern castle heading towards his home.

The rest of the day was busy as preparations were made for the return to Aberthy Castle.  Freya would not be sad to return to her home. This castle had never felt like home even in the seventeen years that she had lived there.

Their last night was a festive one with the absence of Augustus bringing a lightness to the conversation at dinner.  Freya heard many tales of Ewens younger years and misdemeanours from his cousin, Rufus. She realised again how as much as the alliance and their arranged marriage had weighed on her, it had weighed on Ewen. Both had had too much responsibility on them from too young an age.

Much later, in the privacy of the royal chamber, she had continued the conversation.

'Why are you known as Ewen the Cold?' She asked him with curiosity.

Ewen smiled gently at her. Freya was lying in his arms as he gently caressed her belly.

'Some say it is because I am cold-hearted in love. Others say it is because in battle I am cold-hearted.'

Freya turned to look up at him. She smiled back at him as she replied.

'It must be in battle that they are referring to,' she said. 'In love you are all warmth.'

Ewen laughed softly then and pulled her closer. As he kissed her, his hands lingered on her breasts and then down past her slightly swollen belly and into her core. As he readied her for him, listening to her moans and gasps with pleasure he felt at peace. Finally he had her sit astride him as they had done before so he could see the fullness of her breasts as she moved on top of him. Too quickly he found himself close to coming and he had to slow her movements until he could regain control. Eventually Ewen couldn't hold himself back any longer and he thrust deeply into Freya as his seed coated her deeply.

Pulling her into his arms, he rubbed circles into her back gently. He was concerned that he had hurt her in his lust for her.

'Was that too much,' he asked her softly.

Freya shook her head against his shoulder.

'No,' she whispered. 'It was very deep and I tingled all over. It is not sore when you touch me first.'

Ewen held her tighter and together they drifted to sleep. It was only later that the worries returned. This time to her.

In the early light as Ewen woke and automatically reached for her, he heard Freya whisper.

'Do you trust Augustus or his peace?'

Ewen paused a moment before answering her.

'No I don't,' he said evenly.

'But what choice do we have but to hope and to continue as if we did. We cannot relax, especially with an heir on the way. He will not forgive our deception here if he knew.'

Freya nodded her understanding.  Ewens answer was what she expected. She tried to drift back to sleep before the long day started with the long trip home.

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