Disclaimer: I surrender everything and anything to Tamora Pierce. Even the original ideas are hers since, since it was her work that sparked our imagination.


Laughter sounded from within the halls of the Western wing of the Palace. The long corridors of the halls were lined with doors set far apart, name plates were mounted on the left hand side of the entrances and the crests of the nobility housed within were nailed to the door itself. The wing housed knights and their families when they visited Corus from their outlying estates, who normally barred their doors to the bustle of everyday life of palace staff and inhabitants. This day was different.

Late spring sunlight streamed through the floor to ceiling windows set at the end of the halls, allowing a view of the training grounds below. Younger members of nobility were clustered around them, pointing and chattering. Many wore the yellow and red colors of palace pages, others were dressed in the finest fashions. Adults lingered among them, talking softly in some instances and joining in their raucous behavior in others.

The doors to almost every suite of rooms were open and people flowed in and out of rooms equally crowded with people. Pages offered trays of refreshments to men and women who bantered in conversation. Near the windows, holding a wine goblet in one hand, stood a tall man dressed in deep blue and silver. An arm band named him a Captain of the King's Own and his sapphire blue eyes sparkled with mirth as he clapped a slightly younger man of similar resemblance on the shoulder.

"Well, Sir Meathead, how does it feel to officially announce the birth of Queenscove's heir?" Captain Domitan of Masbolle asked loudly. Cheers sounded and then dimmed as they waited for the man's answer.

"Spectacular, Cousin, since it has dimmed my desire to run you through for using that dratted name" was the sharp tongued answer. "Watch out or I will revoke your duties as Godsfather." Laughter sounded.

Dom smiled, bowing in submission to his cousin's sarcasm. Everyone in the room knew how proud he was that Neal had chosen him and his wife as their young son's Godsparents. Seeing as the couple had no children of their own yet, it was known the child would be spoiled.

"I would like to see you tell my wife that. I'm fairly certain she would drag you to the practice courts to convince you to change your mind." Dom grinned at his cousin's scowl.

"Yes. Keladry does have some methods of persuasion that many would prefer not to require. Where is your darling wife?" Neal asked.

"She is with your beautiful wife and my adorable Godschild. Now that you mention it, I may go find her. Drink to health, cousin" Dom downed the rest of his wine and placed the cup on a tray, leaving their circle of friends to weave his way through the guests in the hallway.

Queenscove was an old duchy and it was expected that many would attend the celebrations of Neal and Yuki's baby boy's official blessing. Dom shook his head and grinned, deep down knowing that everyone who looked his way wondered when Kel would announce that the second Lady Knight was pregnant after six months of marriage.

Reaching one of the few doors that was shut, he softly knocked and pushed it open without waiting for an answer.

The noise from the hall dimmed to a dull hum as Dom shut the door behind him and smiled at the figure by the window. Lady Knight Keladry of Masbolle, the realm's second lady knight, sat in a high backed armchair by the window. The afternoon sunlight fell through the window and highlighted her dark brown hair that tumbled past her shoulders. It was pulled back from her face with jeweled barrettes made of sapphires that sparkled in the sun. Sapphires glinted on the bodice of her deep blue gown and the slippers on her feet, which were propped up on the window seat beside her chair. In her lap she held her four month old Godschild, Cairos of Queenscove.

Dom quietly made his way towards them, glancing around for Yuki. Kel looked up when she saw the shadows fall across her. She smiled when he ducked to place a kiss on her lips before crouching down beside the chair and looking at the child.

"Isn't he beautiful? Every time I see him my heart wants to melt." Kel gazed at the baby in her arms. He had his mother's silky black hair and creamy skin. His almond eyes showed his Yamani heritage, but their color was a brilliant green like Neal's.

"He is beautiful. I think the only babies that will rival him will be our own" Dom told her, taking the sleeping boy from her arms and cradling him within the circle of his big arms. Kel watched her husband rock his Godschild as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She glanced behind her at the sound of another door opening.

Yuki entered from the bed chamber, her apricot colored skirts rustling. She smiled at the scene before her. Reaching Dom, she took her son from him.

"I suppose my husband sent you to speed us along" she said to Dom. The captain shook his head.

"I came to find my wife, knowing she never spends that much time getting ready." He helped Kel from the chair.

"I was ready so I offered to feed Cai. He eats more than any man I know. I told Yuki to enjoy the time to herself since she doesn't get it very often." Kel smoothed her skirts and accepted the arm Dom offered her.

"We should be going if we are to not keep the priestess waiting. Kel, what are you wearing?" Yuki reached out and fingered the fine gold chain on Kel's neck.

"It's my pregnancy charm, you know that" Kel said, unsure of why Yuki seemed surprised.

"I know what it is. I meant why are you wearing it? You know it's an insult to the Goddess to defy her gifts while asking her blessing on a child" Yuki shifted the babe in her arms.

"Yuki, that's in the isles. We're not there. In Tortall, the Great Mother Goddess offers protection to willing and unwilling women alike. I am not defying her gifts, I am stalling their consequences." Kel removed her hand from Dom's. "However, if you wish me to take it off, I will do so for the ceremony."

"Thank you. It may be different here, but I will still offer my prayers and I do not wish to slight any god." She gave Kel a smile as the other woman removed the chain and charm from her neck and tucked it into the pocket of Dom's jacket.

"No problem. Now let us find Neal." Smiling Kel opened the door to the hall and ushered Yuki and her child into the hallway and the celebrations.

Kel moved silently around the room, extinguishing the flickering candles. Dom watched her from the bed, his head propped on his hand and the blankets barely covering his hips.

In the dim light, he followed her graceful movements. Her dark hair hung down her back and the nightshirt she wore showed the hint of her curves beneath it.

"You're quiet, tonight" he said softly to her. She didn't turn around but he saw her shoulders stiffen. "What are you thinking about?"

"Do you want children?" she asked him without meeting his eyes. He sighed and got out of bed, going to stand behind her. She leaned into him but continued to watch the dancing flame of the last candle.

"Is that what's bothering you? I thought we had already had this conversation." Dom placed a kiss on her hair.

"It's just that I watched Yuki and Neal today, and Roald and Shinko were chasing baby Alan around and I wanted that. Then I felt guilty because I don't want it now." Kel sighed, feeling his arms come around her waist. He was quiet for a moment before answering her.

"I do want children. Someday. It doesn't have to be now, it can be when we're ready. Don't let others make you feel guilty for our decision, and it is ours Kel. We both want to serve our country and be good parents, and I know we both agree that the two don't necessarily go hand in hand, especially when we've only been at peace for a year. When the time is right, we will know and the Mother Goddess will bless us with a beautiful baby to torture Cai. Until then, let's enjoy each other." Dom gripped her waist and forced her to turn to face him. She gave him a small smile.

"Thank you" she told him.

"For what?"

"Being who you are. Letting me be who I am. For being a wonderful kisser." She reached up and wrapped her hands around his neck, offering him a deep kiss.

"Anytime, Love. Anytime" he said to her lips. Leaning over while still holding onto her, he blew out the remaining candle and led her towards the bed.