Dawn felt Connor stiffen beside her. His hand pressed against her shoulder as he froze. She glanced around the sun dappled woods, feeling suddenly uneasy. Well, she admitted to herself, being in the deep woods made her a tad uneasy. She was a city girl and the woods around Sunnydale had always held something scary.
Connor put a finger to his lips then pointed into a copse of woods. Dawn followed his hand and saw the herd of deer. They were looking back at the couple warily. Spotted fawns munched the underbrush, seemingly unconcerned with the two-legged interlopers. Dawn smiled, listening to them snort softly at each other. The does went back to their feeding while the many-pronged buck kept his dark eyes on her. Dawn slowly raised the camera to her eye and snapped a picture. The does looked back up at the sound but they didn't bolt. Dawn took another picture as the buck herded them off.
"They were so pretty," Dawn said softly, shifting her camera bag on her shoulder. She wished she could afford a digital camera. Heck, to develop all the rolls of film she had shot on their honeymoon would probably come out to the same price.
"Deer, right?" he asked.
Some times she forgot what Connor didn't know about this world. "Deer."
Connor turned to her, stroking her cheek. "Are you feeling okay? If you're tired, we can go back."
Dawn hadn't ever planned on hiking the Rockingham Forest on her honeymoon but she could see how excited Connor was about it. Giles had surprised them with four days in Oundle at the Talbot hotel, where Queen Mary was happily not manifesting herself, plus three days in London. Okay, they technically lived in London but he was putting them up in a nice hotel and they were doing the tourist thing. Hiking in Rockingham was a concession to all the things she had dragged Connor to in Oundle, the breathtaking Rockingham Castle and Deene Park estates, Elton and Kirby halls. She hadn't realized how much she loved old architecture. Even Connor seemed impressed at the age and beauty of the buildings.
He had been more shifty and bored at Chichele College while she perused the art collections. He surprised her with buying her one of the small prints she had liked. Both of them had stood in awed silence at the ruins of Fortheringhay Castle that were sadly fenced off, for the safety more for the ruins from vandals than anything else she was sure. Plump-headed purple Scottish thistles still dotted the grassland around the ruins. They had been told of the legend of Queen Mary planting them before she was executed. The was a sorrow imprinted on the very land that they both felt. If Connor had seen all these sites with her, she could hike a little more. The doctor wanted her to keep fit and as athletic as she could at any rate. "I'm just fine, Connor. We can hike some more. I was thinking, tomorrow, maybe you could come back and hike on your own, really eat up the trails. I can see how much you want to." She rubbed his arm. "I'll go shopping."
His brow wrinkled. "By myself?"
"Do you really want to go shopping?" She tapped her foot.
He shrugged. "No."
"Didn't think so but I do." She gave him a meaningful look. "You can come here and go nuts while I look at antiques or something."
Connor seemed unconvinced. "Are you sure?"
Dawn kissed his cheek. "I knew I should have stolen that line from Khalil Gibran about the oak and cypress not growing in each other's shadow while I was stealing other stuff from him for our vows."
"We need space to do our own things, Connor. I don't ever want to stop you from doing what you love and I don't need you glued to my side either. Me and the baby are just fine. Nothing's going to happen to me," Dawn said. "You understand?"
He nodded, sliding an arm around her. "I get it. Like at the picnic at Deene Park?"
Dawn giggled at the memory. She had been feeding pigeons and had been swamped by the silly birds. Connor had freaked. "No, I needed my white knight to rescue me then."
"Thought so." He grinned. "I'll come back tomorrow while you shop. I can run then. You can't keep up with me."
"Even if I weren't pregnant, I couldn't keep up with you. Even Ailsa has trouble doing that. You take the camera and capture everything I'll be missing," she said.
"I can do that." He stroked her back. "So, do you want to turn back now?"
"No. Let's keep going. How about through there?" Dawn pointed to where the deer went.
Connor raised an eyebrow. "That's off the trail."
"I'll be fine, Connor." Sometimes his protectiveness was a bit much but she loved him for it. "If it's too rough, we'll turn back."
He took her hand and blazed a trail. It wasn't very difficult. Soon, the forest had swallowed them. It was darker here, light trickling through the thick leaf cover. The ground was soft and loamy under foot. Dawn suddenly wondered why she had suggested it, feeling a bit nervous, then remembered why. She wanted to try something and it couldn't be done on the trail.
Connor paused when they broke through to a clearing in the trees. Sun patterned the forest floor. Butterflies fluttered by. Dawn saw a large fairy ring of mushrooms not far from one massive tree. She pointed it out.
"They say that's where fairies dance."
"I'll explain later. Want to sit here for a while? Just listen. I always thought the woods would be quiet but there's so much noise."
"Wind in the trees." Connor pointed upwards at the swaying trees. "We can stay awhile but I think the rain might be building."
"Connor, it's England. It's always raining." She laughed, taking the back pack off his slender shoulders. She had folded up a picnic blanket and a small lunch inside of it before they had set off.
He helped her spread the blanket out not far from the fairy ring. She sat down, motioning him to sit with her. She caught his face, kissing him hungrily. "This is so nice," she purred. "Think anything but deer can see us here?"
"Squirrels and rabbits. Birds. Why?"
Dawn rubbed her hand over his crotch and he jumped.
"What? Why did you think I wanted off the trail? Trees all look alike to me, lover. I wanted private, a good place to commune with nature." She smiled at him, feeling his body starting to respond to her.
He grinned back. "Is that what we're calling it?"
"Can you think of anything more natural?" She leaned closer to him.
"When we get arrested, you explain it that way to Giles when he comes to bail us out." Connor's lips brushed hers.
"Giles will understand." Oddly enough, Dawn didn't doubt that. He'd understand more than Buffy would.
Connor buried his hand in her hair, pulling her in for a kiss. Dawn pushed him back on the blanket, feeling a nervous tickle up her spine. She found being pregnant was making her more horny, not less. The more pregnant she got, the better the sex felt. The chance they could get caught only added to the thrill. She had always wanted to try it somewhere like this. The deep forest just had a good, soothing feel to it, like it was inviting them back to a home they had forgotten was theirs. She straddled him, still clothed, still just in the playing stages. Connor's hand caught hers, their rings clinking on each other. A sliver of sun glinted off the white gold and a hint of sadness touched Dawn. It had been decided that Connor's ring would go in the drawer when they got home. No one would think much of her wearing a Celtic band but if they both wore them someone might suspect. She wasn't ready for that.
But today, here in the woods, the rings touched just briefly. The knots swirled into infinity taking with them any fears that they were both here because they had been shamed or forced into it because of the life growing inside her. She would have wanted him at her side, even without their child. There was something so incredibly right feeling about being with him. Dawn leaned in for a kiss, feeling his breath on her face. She wanted to feel this closeness, this tender love for the rest of her life now and as Shakespeare had said, even to the edge of doom.