* Once again I must apologize for the huge delay in posting this. You might want to go back and re-read Part 14 to refresh your memory. To those of you who’ve continued to support and encourage me, I thank you very much. I really appreciate your patience. Although it’s taking me a lot longer than I’d hoped, I vow to finish this thing! *
by A. K. Naten
For disclaimers, etc., see Intro.
The Marquess sat in a chair in the library, resting and pretending to read. It was mid-afternoon now and still there had been no word on whether or not Gwynneth had given birth. The young Lord didn’t sleep all night and spent a restless morning wandering around the Manor, hobbling along on her cane, attempting to get some exercise while trying to keep her mind off the events that were unfolding in her wife’s chambers. It would soon be nightfall again, and Anton was beginning to fear the worst. She got up off her chair and walked over to the fireplace, leaning against the mantle as she stared at the burning embers. She was going to go insane if she didn’t hear some news soon.
As though answering her thoughts, the library door opened and her mother entered. Marina looked exhausted, her eyes red-rimmed and watery. A white apron tied around her waist was spotted with blood.
Anton’s heart leapt into her throat and she began to tremble. “...Mother?”
“Anton,” Marina whispered as she approached slowly. She could see the fear and anxiety in her daughter’s widened eyes. “Congratulations, darling. You have a fine son and a beautiful daughter.”
Anton’s mouth dropped open and tears immediately flooded her eyes. Her face broke into a relieved smile and she laughed lightly, “My God...a boy and a girl?” Marina nodded and smiled back. Anton laughed again, but only for a moment. “Gwynneth...how is she?” Marina’s smile quickly dissolved and she pursed her lips tightly. “Mother?” Anton repeated, desperation in her voice. “Tell me.”
Marina sighed. “She...she lost quite a lot of blood, Anton. It was a difficult birth for the poor thing.”
Anton reached out and gripped her mother’s shoulders tightly, bracing herself for the worst. “Does she live?” Anton’s voice was barely a whisper.
Marina cupped her daughter’s cheek, “Yes my dear, she lives.”
“Oh God...oh thank God!” Anton squeezed her eyes shut and brought her hands up to her face as tears flooded her eyes and began to streak down her cheeks.
Marina reached out for her and they hugged, comforting and reassuring one another with the action.
After a few moments, the Marquess regained her composure and broke the embrace, her thoughts still on Gwynneth. “May I see her?”
“All right, but only briefly. She’s completely shattered and not fully lucid.”
Anton nodded, “I understand.”
Anton climbed the stairs quickly, eager to confirm her mother’s reports and see for herself that Gwynneth was alive and well. Not wanting to appear too shaken, she paused for just a moment to calm herself before opening the chamber doors.
The room still smelled of strange odors and was shrouded in partial darkness. Anton stepped inside, noticing that the canopy was pulled around Gwynneth’s bed, concealing her. As soon as she closed the door, one of the midwives appeared.
“Milord,” the short woman whispered, curtseying briefly. “Congratulations to you, sire.”
Anton smiled, “Thank you,” she said, feeling a little awkward at accepting the sentiment. “I should like to see my wife.”
“Of course, Milord.” The woman turned and motioned toward the large bed. “She’s sleeping at the moment.”
The woman turned away, leaving Anton standing alone at the side of the bed. Reaching out to pull the canopy back, Anton held her breath. When Gwynneth’s still, prone form appeared, she released the breath unsteadily.
The Marchioness looked pale, her eyes sunken and shadowed with dark smudges from the stress and strain she’d been though. Her blonde hair was damp and matted from sweat, and her normally plump, rose-colored lips were dry and drained of color.
Anton reached a hand out and gently caressed Gwynneth’s cheek, needing to feel for herself that her wife was well. The soft skin was warm to her touch, and Anton breathed a sigh of relief, happy and thankful that the young woman had indeed survived her ordeal.
“Don’t disturb her, Anton. She needs to rest.”
Marina’s sudden appearance made Anton flinch, and she reluctantly removed her hand. Both of them stepped back away from Gwynneth’s bed and Marina took hold of Anton’s arm.
Turning her around, Marina smiled and whispered, “Come and meet your son and daughter.” They walked to the corner of the room where two midwives were fussing over two little bundles wrapped in fine linens. Marina reached out and picked one up, turning around and holding it out to Anton. “May I present your son, My Lord.”
Anton’s mouth opened but she could say nothing as she looked at the tiny babe before her. She sat her cane aside and allowed the baby to be placed in her arms. She could only stand there and hold it awkwardly, feeling completely awestruck as she stared at the dark tuft of hair and pink, splotchy face. Finally the baby yawned and opened its large eyes, looking up at her and blinking.
“My God,” Anton murmured, a slow smile spreading across her face, “so small...so beautiful...it’s...it’s a miracle.” She looked up at her mother, tears welling in her eyes as she felt her emotions begin to swell.
Marina smiled and nodded, “Yes, a lovely, lovely miracle.” As she watched Anton lean down and kiss the little boy on the forehead, her eyes filled with tears.
“Milord, would ye like to hold your daughter as well?” Another midwife asked, holding the other bundle out to Anton.
“Yes, yes,” Anton sniffled, handing the boy to her mother and taking the other baby into her arms.
The little girl was wide awake, her tiny tongue poking out of her mouth and her dark blue eyes lively as she blinked and looked up at Anton.
Anton smiled, “Oh, God,” she whispered with reverence as she held the child. “So precious...so sweet,” she cooed, leaning down to kiss the baby’s cheek, “sweet, pretty little girl.” She was overcome with emotion as she gazed at the child, and she closed her eyes, tears leaking out unashamedly. “Thank you,” she said aloud, to no one in particular.
A shrill little cry soon pierced the silence, and the emotional moment ended. Anton looked fearfully at the whimpering little boy, wondering what was wrong.
“He’s hungry,” Marina said as she began to rock the boy in her arms. “Have you secured a wet nurse?” she asked, turning to the midwives.
The soft, raspy voice stopped everyone abruptly. They all turned toward the Lady’s bed.
Gwynneth was awake, having observed and listened to the small gathering of people for several minutes. It took her a few moments to comprehend that Anton was actually here, in her room. The last time she’d seen him, he was still bedridden. It made her wonder just how long she’d been incapacitated from the birth of the babies. She wasn’t sure what she felt as she watched Marina and Anton hold her children. Part of her felt joy, but another part felt uncertainty; an instinctual maternal urge, perhaps, to protect the babes and keep them by her side at all times. She was certain, however, that she did not want them to be nourished by another woman. Even if it killed her, she would feed them herself.
“No wet nurse,” Gwynneth said softly.
Marina walked closer to the bed, “Don’t be silly, my dear. You can’t properly feed both these children right now; you’re much too weak and exhausted. All new mothers use a wet nurse. It’s perfectly acceptable.”
Gwynneth blinked long, “No wet nurse,” she repeated a little louder, reiterating her wishes.
Anton walked closer, looking at the woman she still loved so dearly. Though Gwynneth was pale and obviously drained, she saw a glint of determination in her eyes. And so, she found herself in a dilemma. Protect Gwynneth’s health and persuade the Lady to acquiesce to her mother’s very reasonable advice, or back Gwynneth’s wishes and show her that she would stand up for her, just as she promised she would. As the young Lady shifted her gaze to Anton and they stared at one another, the Lord made her decision.
“I believe we should allow Gwynneth to do as she pleases, Mother.” Anton said, her eyes never leaving her wife’s.
“But she can’t—” Marina began.
“Gwynneth knows her body’s limitations,” Anton interrupted, turning to the older woman, “if she finds herself overwhelmed, she’ll say so.”
Marina knew what she was being told, and she knew why. She decided not to argue. “Very well.” She said simply. Turning to the midwives, she handed the baby boy to one of them. “You’ll help her and show her.” The women bowed slightly and walked away while Marina turned back to Anton and Gwynneth. She wasn’t angry, but she felt conflicted. The older woman didn’t like being overruled, but she understood the point Anton wanted to make with Gwynneth. Giving a small sigh, Marina said, “I’ll come round later to check on things,” and quietly left the room.
Turning back to Gwynneth, Anton found herself held by uncertain blue-green eyes. She gave a slight smile and walked closer, sitting down carefully on the side of the bed, her precious cargo still in her arms. The little girl was still awake and she made little noises as she squirmed and blinked her large eyes.
Anton looked at the baby, “She’s beautiful, Gwynneth,” she whispered before looking up at the blonde and smiling, “they’re both absolutely beautiful.”
“Yes, they are.” Gwynneth said quietly, watching as Anton held the little girl and looked at her adoringly. The Marquess looked and sounded proud, but Gwynneth wondered what Anton really thought and how he truly felt about these children. These children who were not his.
Since discovering the truth about her husband, Gwynneth had often thought back to those awful moments when her pregnancy had first been discovered. Anton had been so furious, accusing her of being an unfaithful harlot and lying with another man, because he knew that the children weren’t his – couldn’t be his. Eventually, once he knew how they came to be, he accepted the circumstances. So now that the children had been born, would he come to accept them once again? Would he truly accept and acknowledge his brother’s bastard children as his own? And, would he be content with only having one son? Would he disregard the girl in favor of the boy? Gwynneth knew that she would love both children equally, but she also knew how vitally important it was for a nobleman to have numerous sons. It was a wife’s primary duty to provide those sons; but for her, that could never be. She would never provide more heirs for Anton of Weldon.
As she fretted, Gwynneth’s eyes filled with tears until a fat bead broke free and dribbled down her cheek.
Hearing sniffling and looking up to see her wife wiping at her eyes, Anton’s heart clenched with worry. Her mother had warned her that the young woman would probably be overwhelmed and emotional for awhile. Her instinct was to reach out and envelope the blonde in a comforting, protective embrace, but she wasn’t sure how her touch would be welcomed. Instead, Anton scooted closer and simply laid a hand on Gwynneth’s arm. “Are you all right, Gwynneth?” she whispered. “Do you need Victor?”
Gwynneth shook her head, feeling a little embarrassed. “No, no.” She wiped at her face, her eyes flicking up to see her husband staring at her, his face full of concern. “I just...” she struggled to express herself without appearing pathetic, “I’m just a little emotional. Forgive me.”
“Nothing to forgive,” Anton answered. “It’s to be expected, I’m certain.” They locked eyes again, silent words and thoughts filling the air for a moment before Anton finally reached up and brushed a lock of hair away from Gwynneth’s forehead. “I was so terribly worried about you,” she whispered softly, “I’m so thankful you’re all right...and that the children are all right.”
The Lady’s heart began to pound as Anton cupped her cheek with his hand and leaned in to gently touch their lips together. She had not forgotten her feelings for him, and even though she was still uncertain about a great many things, the thought of being intimate with Anton made her head spin. The exchange was so soft and sweetly timid that Gwynneth nearly began to cry from her swirling emotions.
“I feel as though you have given me the rarest of gifts,” Anton said in a hushed voice. “Something I thought I would never ever have.” She stared deeply into Gwynneth’s eyes, “...Thank you.”
Before Gwynneth could answer, an impatient wail cut through the quiet moment, and one of the midwives appeared behind Anton. “Beggin’ yer pardon, Milord, Milady,” she bowed slightly, “but I’m afraid the wee one cries for nourishment.”
Anton held Gwynneth’s eyes for just a moment longer before rising and handing the baby girl over to the other midwife. She reached down and caressed her wife’s cheek, “I’ll come back later.”
Gwynneth nodded and watched as Anton turned and left the room. When she looked back, the midwives were smiling eagerly at her. “May we assist you with the nursing of the babes, Milady?”
Gwynneth drew a deep breath and expelled it unsteadily, “Yes...you may.”
It was evening when Anton finally returned to Gwynneth’s room to check on her and the babies. She’d found it difficult to occupy herself during the day; her thoughts continually revolved around her wife and the newborns.
Entering Gwynneth’s chambers, Anton was surprised to find it quiet and dark. A midwife sat in a chair busying herself with some needlework. She looked up at the Marquess and nodded, then smiled as she brought a finger to her lips. Anton smiled and nodded back in understanding then walked quietly over to the two brand new cradles in the corner of the room. Peering into them, a huge grin erupted on her face. Both little babies were sound asleep and covered with blankets, their tiny hands balled into fists and held beside their cherubic faces. Anton still had trouble believing that they were really here, and that there really were two of them. Their smallness astounded her. Though her mother assured her that it had been a good thing for Gwynneth that they were so small, Anton was still concerned that there was something wrong with them. She’d never seen such little human beings before.
Refraining from the urge to reach out and touch the babies to make certain they were all right, Anton straightened and looked over at the midwife, who smiled at her again. Walking closer to the woman, she bent down and whispered, “How is the Lady this evening?”
“Still very weakened, Milord. I tried to get her to partake of a meal, but she was much too tired and disinterested.”
“Mm-hmm.” Anton frowned and nodded. She knew the importance of eating to help regain strength and health having just experienced it herself. Thinking for a moment, she looked back to the midwife, “I wonder if you would go find me some fresh bread and butter, and bring it here to me.”
The midwife immediately dropped her sewing, and nodded vigorously, “Yes, Milord, at once.” She hurried out the door, her skirts whooshing behind her.
Anton walked over to Gwynneth’s bed and carefully sat down. The young Marchioness was still quite pale, and she breathed in shallow, barely-discernible breaths. Anton sat and watched her for a long time, thinking, wondering, remembering. It was a long enough spell that the midwife soon reappeared with a loaf of warm bread and a small crock full of butter.
“Ah, thank you,” Anton said with gratitude as she took the food from the older woman. As soon as she spoke, Gwynneth stirred and opened her eyes. The Marquess looked at her wife and smiled. “Good evening, My Lady. How are you feeling?” she asked, her voice low and soft.
Gwynneth blinked and blinked, “Fine.” As her eyes adjusted and her mind became aware of her surroundings, she fancied that she smelled the aroma of warm bread. Licking her lips, she closed her eyes again, feeling her stomach stir in reaction.
Anton smiled and glanced back to the midwife, “You may leave us for awhile.”
“Yes, Milord.” The woman bowed and quietly disappeared from the room.
Turning her attention back to Gwynneth, Anton placed the butter crock on the small table beside the bed. “I’ve got something nice for you,” she gently teased, remembering how the blonde had once been quite fond of warm bread. “Fresh bread and butter.” She tore the loaf open and ripped a bite-sized piece off, smearing it with some butter. She leaned in close and held the piece to Gwynneth’s lips, “Eat.”
The Lady looked up at her husband and saw the gentle but determined look on his face. She really didn’t feel like eating, but was obviously going to have to. She opened her mouth and ate the bread slowly. It tasted wonderful; better than she could ever recall. She didn’t protest as Anton sat and patiently fed her piece after piece.
When nearly a quarter of the loaf was gone, Anton eased off. “There now, that’s better, isn’t it?” She asked as she brushed crumbs away.
“Mm, yes. Thank you.” Gwynneth felt shy and a little embarrassed that her husband had found it necessary to make her eat, but she was grateful nonetheless.
Anton’s voice remained quiet, “You must make sure that you eat to regain your strength, Gwynneth. I’m told this is doubly important for ensuring that you’re able to nurse the children as well.”
“Yes, I know this. The midwives have given me more than adequate instruction in that arena, I assure you.” Gwynneth said, sounding rueful.
Anton half-grinned, “Well good. Then I don’t have to worry about you taking proper nourishment, hmm?”
Gwynneth smiled slightly and lowered her eyes, “No, My Lord, you don’t.”
“Good.” Anton smiled and reached out to touch a finger to Gwynneth’s chin, bringing her eyes back up. “I’m proud of you, Gwynneth. The children are so beautiful and healthy. You’ve done a wondrous thing, truly.”
Tears began to gather in the Lady’s eyes as she stared at her husband, wondering if he really meant what he said. Wondering if he was merely being polite and saying appropriate words rather than heartfelt ones. How could he be proud of her, the mother of bastards?
Anton was confounded as she watched the tears leak from her wife’s eyes. Had she said something wrong, or was this just another one of those emotional outbursts her mother warned her about? “Gwynneth? What’s wrong?” she asked, but the blonde could only sniffle and shake her head. “What is it?”
Gwynneth shook her head, “I...I don’t know, I just...I’m confused.”
“Confused about what?”
Watery blue-green looked up, “How can you say that you’re proud of me...that you’re proud of these children?” Anton frowned, giving her a puzzled look. “They’re not your children, Anton...they’re bastards! And one of them is a girl! Not only have I given you bastards, I’ve only given you one son!” Gwynneth was crying harder, her voice loud, “How can you claim pride in that?”
“Shh, shh,” Anton reached out and gently pulled Gwynneth into an embrace. She didn’t want to frighten the fragile young woman with the contact, but she could no longer stand to not hold her.
The two of them sat in silence for a moment before Anton pulled back. When she spoke, she made sure she was looking squarely into her wife’s eyes. “These children are my brother’s children, and as such, are my flesh and blood, Gwynneth. It matters not how they were begotten,” she added, her gaze dropping for a moment. “They are still of my blood.”
Gwynneth searched her husband’s eyes and face, desperate to believe in what he was saying.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re girls or boys; they are both heirs to Weldon, and they are the only ones we will have. Ever. That makes them even more precious.” Her voice was quietly forceful, and Gwynneth finally began to believe.
“And so you shall accept them, just like that?”
“Yes, I shall. ...I have.” Anton said, the look in her eyes a testament to her sincerity.
They were quiet for a moment before Gwynneth finally took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Anton.” She shook her head, feeling foolish. “I didn’t mean to doubt you or insult you, I just...,” she glanced back up, “I just feel so strange...this is all so...so confusing.” She covered her face with her hands, wishing she could just disappear.
“I understand.” Anton reached out and gently tugged her wife’s hands away so they could lock eyes. “Truly I do,” she added before cupping the blonde’s cheek. “Please...please don’t pull away from me, Gwynneth.” Anton’s voice was a mere whisper. “I need you...you need me...the children need us both.” Tears began to stream down Gwynneth’s face again. “I want us to be a family,” Anton leaned in close so that their faces were a mere inch apart, “I want us to try, all right? Can we try, Gwynneth?” her voice wavered with emotion.
Gwynneth reached up and covered Anton’s hands with her own, “Yes,” she nodded her head and closed her eyes as she cried, “Yes, we will...we will try very hard!”
The two of them sat for a long while, silently holding on to each other, and hope.
The days following the birth of the babies drug on slowly, but soon the days began to turn into weeks. Everyone was surprised at Gwynneth’s determination to breastfeed the children herself, but the little blonde managed to do it somehow. The wee babes were thriving and though they sapped their mother’s strength and stamina, everyone was thrilled.
Anton did her best to keep the visitors to a minimum while Gwynneth remained in her lying-in period. She played the part of gracious host and proud father, but she was always eager for the times when she herself could visit with Gwynneth and the children. Being around babies was a brand new experience for the Marquess, but it was one that she was beginning to thoroughly enjoy.
Gwynneth had to admit that she was pleasantly surprised by Anton’s attentiveness, both to her and the babies. She’d had no idea what to expect from her unique husband, but clearly his patient doting with both her and the children was a surprise to everyone.
The Marquess visited her regularly, often bringing her meals and personally seeing to her needs. And he held and coddled the children frequently too, much to the shock of the midwives who attended to the Lady. Anton would even walk the halls with the babies when they fussed or whined. Everyone remarked that such behavior from a father was most unusual, but Gwynneth could only smile inwardly, knowing full well the reasons for her husband’s unusualness. Still, she couldn’t help but marvel at Anton’s willingness to care for the children. Despite his inexperience, Anton was proving to be quite good with the babies, and it endeared him to Gwynneth even more.
Gwynneth’s feelings about Anton and who he was were still convoluted, but she began to feel herself softening more and more every time she watched him with the babies. Every time he came to her and sat and talked with her...every time he touched her so reverently...it all made her realize that she did indeed still love him. She loved him, but how far beyond that could she go? She examined her feelings quite a lot, but she never came up with conclusive solutions to her many questions and fears. She could only hope that things would become more clear as time went by.
It was late in the afternoon when Anton finally had an opportunity to break away and go pay a visit to Gwynneth and the children. She hadn’t seen them all day, and she was eager for her ‘fix’. Reaching Gwynneth’s door, she opened it and entered with a smile already on her face. She was a bit taken aback to find Gwynneth alone, sitting upright in bed, her breasts exposed as she nursed the little boy. She’d never encountered her wife in such a state, and she felt surprisingly dumbfounded.
“Oh, uh, I...I’m sorry, uhm...” Anton stammered.
Gwynneth smiled at Anton’s fumbling; she felt unusually at ease herself. Then again, she had become so accustomed to the midwives constantly coming and going in her room, it didn’t really faze her to have someone present when she nursed.
“Uhm, I can come back later...” the Marquess mumbled, backing toward the door.
“No, it’s all right. Come in.”
Anton stood indecisively for just a moment, then turned and closed the door. A hundred thoughts raced through her head, ranging from how beautiful Gwynneth looked in her glorious nakedness to how inappropriate the timing was for her to be thinking such things. Forcing all lustful thoughts from her mind, Anton made herself calmly walk over to one of the chairs and sit down.
The two of them sat silently for a long moment. Gwynneth pretended to be absorbed with feeding the boy, but she could feel Anton’s eyes on her. It was equal parts thrilling and unnerving, and she felt her skin involuntarily erupt in gooseflesh.
Anton felt invasive, yet she couldn’t help but stare at the scene before her. Once she got over staring at her wife’s large, lovely breasts, she focused on what was really happening. She’d never seen Gwynneth nurse the babies, and she realized that it was quite amazing.
Gwynneth lifted her head and the two of them locked eyes. Anton smiled, but before either of them could say anything, the little girl began whimpering in her cradle.
“She’s growing impatient,” Gwynneth said with a soft laugh.
The little girl let out a louder wail and Anton got up and retrieved her from her cradle. “What’s the matter, my love? Are you hungry?” Anton cooed to the baby. She turned and walked back toward the chair, gently rocking the girl in her arms. “Maybe you’re just jealous that your brother is getting Mummy’s attention, hmm?”
Gwynneth smiled and watched with fascination as Anton sat down with the now-quiet baby.
“Mummy can’t feed you both at the same time, now can she?” She dipped her head and kissed the little girl’s forehead, “You need to be patient, dear heart.”
Gwynneth’s own heart swelled at Anton’s soft words and affection. Watching him now, she dared to think that perhaps everything would be all right...perhaps they all would be all right.
When the little boy was finished, he began to doze. Gwynneth eased him away from her breast and looked over to Anton. “If you’ll hold him, I can nurse her.” She whispered, pointing to the little girl.
“Yes, of course,” Anton said, glad to be of help. They carefully exchanged babies, Anton watching with fascination as Gwynneth settled the girl at her other breast and she began to eagerly feed.
Gwynneth looked up, smiling softly at the look of wide-eyed wonder on Anton’s face. He seemed to be so awe-struck that he didn’t even realize he was holding the boy at an odd angle. “Uhm, you should probably help him to pass air,” Gwynneth whispered.
“Hmm?” Anton queried, bringing her eyes back to her wife’s.
Gwynneth nodded toward the boy, “You need to help him release the air from his stomach so that it doesn’t ache.”
“Oh, yes, right,” Anton answered quickly, realizing that she’d been caught staring. She slid her hands beneath the boy’s body, but felt uncomfortable, not knowing what to do. “Uhm,” she hesitated, “how do I do that?” She gave Gwynneth a sheepish look.
The Lady smiled, “Lift him up to your shoulder and pat his back gently.”
“Ah, yes...very good.” She brought the boy up to her shoulder, fumbling slightly but finally resting his little head in the crook of her neck. She gave Gwynneth a nervous glance as she began to softly pat his back, “Like this?”
Gwynneth nodded, her smile widening at her husband’s adorable clumsiness. After just a few pats, the boy let loose an impressive belch, and Anton’s eyes widened as he looked at Gwynneth in amazement. The Lady couldn’t help herself, she finally erupted in a giggle, amused with Anton’s reactions and touched by the sweet humor of the moment.
As Gwynneth returned her attention to the nursing baby, Anton settled the boy back into her arms and came to sit down on the side of the bed. Watching Gwynneth and the little girl, she couldn’t help but feel spellbound.
The girl’s dark blue eyes were wide open and she kept them riveted to her mother as her jaw worked and she suckled greedily. The tiny fingers of one hand gripped her mother’s index finger, and she blinked as Gwynneth smiled and cooed softly to her.
The whole scene was so amazing to Anton, she was nearly moved to tears. It was more than just an age-old tradition of a woman feeding her child. It felt as though she was witnessing something magical, yet totally natural; the formation of the most intimate bond between a child and its mother. Anton was awed by Gwynneth’s loving, nurturing instincts, and she thought it to be the purest, most wonderful sight in the world. She felt deeply moved, thinking that she had never witnessed anything quite so beautiful before.
When Gwynneth looked up, she could see tears forming in Anton’s eyes. It touched her that he was so obviously moved, and she felt her own eyes well with tears.
Anton shook her head, astounded by her feelings. “It’s...,” she hesitated, not quite knowing how to express herself. “It’s all so wonderful...so incredibly beautiful.” They locked eyes, “You’re beautiful, Gwynneth.”
Gwynneth felt herself grow warm as Anton’s words washed over her, and a single tear trickled down her cheek, “Thank you,” she whispered, her voice quavering. As Anton leaned in toward her, Gwynneth’s eyes fluttered shut.
The kiss was brief, and Anton immediately backed off so that she could look at Gwynneth’s eyes and measure her reaction. The Lady’s cheeks were flushed, her body tingling from the intensity of the moment.
Wanting to show more of her feelings, Anton decided to press on and leaned in for another kiss. Gwynneth breathed in sharply, but did not pull away. Anton brought a hand up to slide into blonde hair and kissed her long and deep before breaking apart at last. The Lady’s mouth was parted and her eyes were wide. She licked her lips but said nothing. Anton could not tell by her expression if she was pleased or displeased. Gwynneth just let out a shuddering breath and closed her eyes, a pleasant blush still coloring her cheeks.
It would be so easy to press further, but Anton didn’t want to shatter the tenuous bond they were rebuilding. She wanted to take things slowly. “I should go.” She finally said.
Gwynneth didn’t look up, she merely nodded her head in mute agreement.
With no more words, Anton rose and placed the now-sleeping boy in his cradle. She turned and walked to the door, glancing back at the Lady before exiting quietly.
Once she heard the chamber door close, Gwynneth released a deep sigh. She had not expected any of the preceding events, and her mind and heart were aflutter with reaction and emotion.
The deep kiss had been neither strange nor unpleasant; in fact, if she were honest with herself, Gwynneth would have to admit that it was every bit as nice as it used to be.
Perhaps I can do this, she thought. Perhaps things can be the way they used to be.
She watched her daughter for a moment before closing her eyes and leaning back to rest against the bed cushions.
As soon as the little girl finished, Gwynneth placed her in the cradle and crawled back into her bed, immediately falling fast asleep.
Emotional turmoil was so very draining.
++++++...To Be Continued in Part 16...
Return to the Academy