The Bride of Sacae
By: Manna



xOx…

The sun rises in the east, casting its orange-gold rays over the plains of Sacae. As the light flickers across the landscape, highlighting the edges of the blades of grass and the small beads of dew that collected there overnight, it falls through a window and across the sleeping forms of a man and a woman.

The man stirs, burying his face in his wife's hair as he pulls her closer to him. That moment is one in which he realizes that he has to wake up; there is work to be done. And, he thinks, he should have woken up before the sun had a chance to rise, because by the time he makes it outside, it will already be hot.

Before he can move, he pauses in the still summer morning to repeat one word in his head that he can't seem to get enough of.

Wife.

If someone had told him even a year ago that his beloved, benevolent Lady Lyndis of Caelin would be his wife, he doubted that he would have been able to find the thought humorous or truthful in any way. In fact, the words might have stung a little, might have made his stomach flip sickeningly, might have broken his heart.

Things like knights marrying royalty don't happen, and perhaps he had, for a time, closed his heart off because of that fact; it hadn't been so much that he was afraid of being hurt. No, he had been certain that nothing would come of his feelings from the very beginning.

Of all the women in the world, he thinks, his eyes opening slightly as the sun invades his dark world, he fell for the very best. He's still falling a little more every single day.

Sain was the rash one, people had always said, and Kent the responsible one. He had liked being dependable, being relied on. Somewhere along the line people had begun to expect him to be the epitome of excellence, never straying from his little bubble of duty. Clearly, he felt most comfortable there, but eventually the time came when he wanted out of the protective walls, and he had been unsure as to how to go about it.

What a strange twist of fate that the oh-so responsible knight commander had been the one to ultimately fall for a noblewoman while Sain, known for falling for beautiful women regardless of rank, had fallen for a mercenary.

He blinks once, twice, and brushes her hair off of the back of her neck to press a kiss against her skin. She shifts in his arms, and he lifts his hands, letting her settle before holding her again.

He knows he has to get up because he has work to do, so much work, always—always—work, but he can't bring himself to move.

Running his fingers through her long hair, he prepares himself for rising to face another day. He has duties as a husband that he can't shirk; now he has a family to take care of. A family of one, certainly, but a family nonetheless. His motivation is simple and effective; at the end of the day, when the sun sets and the sky darkens, he will return to her, and she'll be waiting for him—for him. It makes him so…

He's not sure. Proud? Happy? Loved? Perhaps all three and more. The tip of one of his fingers traces around the edge of her ear, and then he turns down the woven blanket covering them, ready to face the plowing and the carpentry work he knows he has to do.

He's stopped by the sound of his name, spoken in that special way that makes him melt nearly every time he hears it. She turns over and wraps her arms around his waist, tangling her bare legs in his, effectively trapping him.

He doesn't really mind.

"You're going so soon?" she asks, her accent thick and heavy with sleep. She squeezes him tightly and buries her face in his neck, pressing a sleepy kiss against his shoulder. "It's too early…"

He agrees wholeheartedly, but… "Barns and fences and fields do not make themselves, Lyndis…" His reminder is gentle, soft, whispered.

"That's right," she murmurs slowly, thoughtfully; she rubs his back before lifting her hands to his head to tenderly brush his hair out of his eyes. "We compromised."

They lay together in companionable silence for a few minutes before he takes her hands in his, pulling them away from the contours of his face. She pouts slightly and lifts her head to kiss him before nuzzling his nose with hers.

"Stay, just a little longer." She brings their joined hands to her lips and kisses his left thumb. "You need to rest," she drawls, speaking her words slowly. "Your hand hasn't healed yet…" She kisses his thumb again, her lips brushing over a jagged scar that crosses down the inside of the joint; he can't bend his thumb properly any longer thanks to an accident shortly after arriving in Sacae.

"You say that every morning."

"Mm, this is the last time, I swear." Snuggling a little closer, she pulls his arm over her waist.

"You say that every morning, too…" He rests his hand on the small of her back, feeling her warm skin, soft compared to his many calluses.

Reaching her hand up, she pats his cheek softly, and he moves his hand from her back to catch her fingertips. He brings her hand to his lips and kisses her left ring finger once before threading their hands together, pressing the back of her hand against his face.

Wife. The word runs through his head again, a whispered dream, almost. He strokes her hand slowly as she starts to settle down again, her eyelashes fluttering against his shoulder. He notices, not for the first time, the absence of a metal band on the third finger of her left hand.

Wife.

It had taken him time to get used to the fact that they would never have a wedding, not a customary one. Being very traditional himself, adjusting to the thought of the sacrilege that the lack of a wedding suggested was difficult. The purpose of a marriage was, by all means, to unite two people before God in the name of the good Saint Elimine, and without saying vows, the idea of consummating the union was out of the question.

But Lyndis was of noble blood, and he clearly not; society deemed him unworthy of becoming her husband. That had, in many ways, influenced the closing of his heart from the very beginning. But time had passed and before he knew it, such things began to matter less and less.

They still mattered, though, and Lyndis knew it. After the fight to seal the Dragon's Gate, he had struggled with himself to make a decision. If he asked her to marry him, they would never be truly married, and he was troubled by the sins they would no doubt commit because of it. But he worried that if he didn't ask, he would lose her.

His thumb brushes over her ring finger again, absently, and she sighs, her breath tickling his throat.

In the end, his mouth had stayed closed, if only out of his own lack of an ability to make such a choice. Life in Caelin had been stressful for them both, especially for Lyn. He could see her tiring more and more of the demanding life of a marchioness, and he had longed—ached, even—to take her away from everything.

One day, tired and stressed to the point of nearly being in tears, she admitted that she had her heart set on returning to Sacae. He wanted to go with her, but didn't know how to ask. She ended up asking him. He said yes, of course, as she had known he would.

But the lack of a wedding, a marriage, vows…it still bothered him, and Lyndis noticed something was wrong. It took her several months, but she dragged the truth out of him.

"I have an idea, but you'll have to wait and see…"

Her response, while shocking, had been satisfactory at the time, and he had indulged in thoughts of their future together. He let himself get lost in his duty and his love of serving her, and before either of them knew it, Caelin was in Ostia's hands and they were on horseback with so many supplies they could scarcely carry everything.

He brings her hand down, kissing her ring finger, his lips touching not metal, but…something else. He smiles.

So does she, sleepily opening her eyes again.

He remembers that first day as if it had been the night before and not a months ago. He doesn't want to forget it, ever.

They had picked a spread of land with rich soil, trees behind them, plains before them, and she had jumped into his arms and kissed him soundly. Things had progressed quickly from that point, and they were lying in the grass in a tangled mess of limbs and lips and hands that sought the warmth of the other's skin.

He had stopped then, flustered and ashamed. She had been hurt by his actions—or rather, lack thereof—but she quickly realized that something was wrong.

They were together, in love, and it wasn't as if he didn't want her because he did. But he didn't feel right taking her—the only woman he ever wanted to be his—and consummating a marriage that didn't even exist.

She understood, in her own way, though her customs were different than those he knew. "It's okay," she told him, settling for stroking his hair. "I know, I know."

He knew that she knew. Neither one of their traditions could be honored. The Lorca were gone; most of Lyn's former tribe had died, and those that lived had scattered across Elibe. Lorcan weddings were elaborate and lasted upward of a week with dancing and singing and feasts every night. It broke her heart the way it broke his that what had been imagined their whole life would never come to be.

"I do have an idea, though," she had murmured gently, understanding and partaking in the same kind of sorrow he felt at the lack of a wedding. After all, she had been looking forward to the feasts and the dancing and all the old traditions of her tribe—some of which she couldn't remember well—from the time she had been a small girl. "Remember? I mentioned it before. But it seems so silly, now…"

Anything was better than nothing, he had replied, and she had explained her idea to him. Really, it was a silly idea, but it was so…her. They needed their own tradition, since the Lorca were no more, and they would never have a white-gown wedding. There wasn't an aisle, wasn't a dress except the one she wore every day. There wasn't even a ring.

So they made their own that very evening as the sky started to darken and the warm summer day cooled to a comfortable temperature. So simple, so childish they would have seemed to other people as they bent to snap off the thick stems of plants. Lyndis braided them, promising to show him how to do so soon, and then they had tied the makeshift rings around one another's ring fingers.

"Every few weeks," she had smiled, "we'll make ourselves new rings."

Really, it was a splendid plan. It would keep them closer in a sense, he hoped, she hoped, and it would be like renewing their vows to each other constantly.

Smiling more, now, his teeth tug gently on the dried ring around her finger. It's been a month since they've made a new set of rings, and the braided, knotted stems give way slightly. She lifts her chin and pulls their hands away from his lips to that she can claim them with her own.

"It is that time, isn't it?" she asks.

He nods and kisses her back.

"Should we say something?" she asks softly, tilting her head to the side as he slides the green, braided stems onto her finger. She pushes the ring she made for him onto his finger, too. They hold each other's hands, entwine their fingers, and he shrugs a little.

"I…don't know."

"Let's say something, then."

There's no long spiel about being united in the eyes of the law, or in the presence of anyone. No, it's much simpler, faster, and he thinks to himself that maybe, just maybe, the way they're doing things is far better because it will mean something to both of them for a long time to come.

"Will you take me as your wife, Kent of Caelin?"

"Yes… And will you take me as your husband, Lyndis of Sacae?" Her kiss, and the way she practically tackles him to the ground in doing so is as good an answer as any.

Except now it's Kent of Sacae, because he lives there, and he knows he couldn't possibly be better off anywhere else. The fact that she is his wife and he is her husband is one that pushes him to work harder than ever before to assure her safety, her well being, and her happiness.

In Caelin, so many men sighed and told him that eventually, the attraction would fade, taking the eager-to-please feeling along with it. But he can't imagine that ever happening. Every month, he'll put a new ring on her finger, and every month, she'll be his bride of Sacae all over again.

"Are you staying?" she asks him, settling her head back onto his shoulder.

"For a little while," he answers.

She smiles; he feels the corners of her lips turn up against the skin of his shoulder. "You say that every morning."

"This time, I mean it."

"You say that every morning, too." She snuggles against him and kisses his shoulder again before she rests her head against it.

Sure enough, four hours later, the blanket is on the floor, the sun is high overhead, and they're still in each other's arms.


xOx…

Author Notes:

I've had this title in my head for well over a year. I found it scribbled in a notebook and I couldn't help but write it. Seriously. Their "compromise" was, by the way, to live a mixed lifestyle. Farming, as I'm implying Kent wanted to do, but on the plains, where Lyn wanted to live.

You know how most little girls want to get married and think about their future wedding? We can't say if Lyn was that kind of girl or not, but with her entire tribe being slaughtered, I'll bet she would be sad about not having a traditional Lorcan wedding. After all, it would hurt to know that something you loved and looked forward to as a child was gone. The Lorca have ceased to exist, and along with them, so many memories and traditions.

Both Kent and Lyndis seem like very traditional people to me. This idea is kind of based off of their ending together, which does not state a wedding or a marriage. It simply says that Lyn returns to Sacae with her former vassal and new love, Kent. So…this is speculation, but it was fun. (I had a blast giving them a cute tradition of their own, too.)

Thanks for reading! Feedback is very much appreciated.