It was a surprise when he found her, barren in the aftermath of war.
Scorched earth and empty promises had robbed her even of her tears.
He expected nothing; offering nothing in return.
But the rain fell after all, and tender shoots of yearning and desire pushed through the brittle soil.
Man. Woman. Witch. Wizard.
Her body, lush—sown by his virility, drenched with their desire. Synergistic power finally renewed amidst a season of hope.
And in the tender space between them—
The silken whisper of newborn skin, and cloudy eyes peering unerringly into his soul.
He'd always mocked those who sought redemption in the eyes of their children.
His guilt was his to own—a hard lump of pain that he worried like a stone smoothed over time.
But the silk of her skin softened him as her mother's had not. Surprised serenity when dark eyes captured his—too wise for a baby so recently cradled in the womb.
And still, the radiance of her expression when he reached for her seared through poison lacquered to
brittle layers over his heart. And the crystal sound of her laughter unearthed a joy to match hers, unbridled.
He'd always considered magic a force more powerful than nature. After all, he'd witnessed enough manipulation of the natural order of things to believe.
Long controlled by power's unforgiving bridle...
He had only reluctantly bowed to the promise of tenderness and passion that love so unreservedly offered, and invited in return.
But this... this was a force of nature that he'd never envisioned.
His reflex to restrain her, to control her ebullience, quieted with the gleam in her eye. And when he finally took her hand and let her lead him to play, no magic could contain them.
Wildflowers reached for her, petal fingers eagerly brushing plump legs. She crooned with joy at her freedom in the infinity of tall grasses and their blooms.
Wobbly steps brought her out of reach. Love's warm hand at his back anchored him, soothing the lurching knot in his gut as squeals turned to wails from her tumble onto the cushion of greens.
Pounding heart rushed in, braving the ominous wild, shielding her from the pain of hope's perfidy.
But from that dappled palette, bright eyes rose, undaunted.
Love alongside him, untapped possibilities before him, their precious dreams seeded in fertile soil.