As per my previous Tristan & Isolde based fic "Truth", this story is based on the relationship between Marke & Isolde as portrayed in the 2006 movie starring Rufus Sewell and Sophia Myles.
As such, it probably doesn't follow the traditional legend so please don't be disappointed.
And please understand that it is rated M for a reason!
I usually suggest a soundtrack to accompany my stories, but this time I want to go straight to youtube. Please search for "Tristan And Isolde - A Lord Marke Tribute - Suicide Note" It's a fantastic, dark video about Marke's despair. Worth a look.
"The queen is come. She is returned to us."
Marke was at his desk high in the keep, working, planning, thinking, reminiscing, when he heard the call go out.
The queen. A shiver ran up his spine.
He frowned. Could it be? The queen... His queen... His Isolde.
He sat, silent, frozen. He wanted to get out of his seat, wanted to look out of the window, see her approach. He wanted to gaze upon her but he couldn't even stand. His legs felt like lead. He was pinned to his chair with fear.
He'd imagined this day. Dreamed of it. But had never even hoped that it would actually happen. It could not be real.
It was seven months past since they had all left him. His wife and queen, the woman he loved; the boy he had raised as his own, his second, his heir; and his sister's handsome son, his blood.
Isolde, Tristan and Melot.
But every night they haunted his dreams.
He had hardly slept since that night, that terrible night when his world came crashing down around his ears. His fevered dreams were vivid with death and loss, terrible killing, burning, screams; but primarily his dreams resonated with memories of the woman he had loved, the woman who had betrayed him.
Since then he had struggled through each day one at a time, making decisions, directing the rebuilding of D'or, trying to help his people to heal. Everyone at D'or was hurting. Isolde was the people's queen, not just his. Tristan had been everyone's hero. They all felt betrayed.
The pain Marke felt for his people was immeasurable. He blamed himself, felt responsible for allowing the tragic situation to arise. He had put his faith in Tristan, picked him as his second when many people had assumed Melot would be the natural choice to inherit his title. He was responsible for letting Tristan fight in the tournament. He had known it wasn't the right thing to do, yet had let himself been blinded by the promise of victory over the weaker barons, his desire for any leverage that would strengthen his claim to the throne. Let himself be weakened by his loneliness, his desire for a wife, for a family. Tristan had appealed to his vanity and his desires, and it had made him weak.
He had never been strong when it came to Tristan, had never been able to refuse him. He knew his love for the boy had been borne out of despair and shared loss. The worst day of his life had been the day he lost his wife, lost his unborn child, lost his fighting hand, his pride as a warrior. Tristan had lost his parents and his home. But they had saved each other that day; Marke had saved Tristan's life, and he always believed that Tristan had saved his soul. And afterwards, Tristan gave him something and someone to focus on, to believe in, and Marke leant on the child in desperation, to dull the physical pain of his horrendous injury and the mental pain of his grief.
And so Tristan became the focus of his life, and as he grew into a man, Marke was as proud of him as any father. But in the end, it was the blind paternal love he felt for Tristan that was his downfall. Marke was easily able to stand up to Melot and tell him that fighting in the tournament was a foolish idea, was simply acquiescing to the plan set in motion by Donnchadh to shatter the alliance. But when Tristan came to him wanting the same thing after he returned from Ireland, after he returned from the dead, Marke had yielded to him.
How he regretted that day.
If Tristan hadn't won the tournament, hadn't brought Isolde back to D'or, if Marke had never laid eyes on her beauty, never fallen victim to her seductive innocence, then his people would not have had to suffer yet again. They had already suffered so much at the hands of the brutal Irish and Marke knew he should have had the wisdom of a true leader to stay away from them, avoid contact with them at all costs.
He should have trusted his instincts, should have known the Irish King was an evil man and not to be trusted. Should have concentrated on making his alliance with the English barons stronger, of ferreting out the weakest among them like Wictred and Rothgar. Only when the tribes of England stood strong and united should he have considered the Irish. But he had foolishly put his faith in Tristan and his promises, the promises that would ultimately betray him.
But through it all, one thing had never faltered and that was his love for Isolde. He had lost his heart and soul to her the moment their eyes had met, the moment he touched her hand, said her name. She had been his ultimate weakness, but in his heart he knew he wouldn't change a single second of the time they had spent together. She had given him hope where previously he had just felt despair, love where there was only emptiness, laughter where there had been sadness, and the promise of a future where there had just been the memories of a sad and lonely past.
And now she was here.
There was a banging on his door, pulling him sharply back to reality and away from his musings. "Sire, sire, it is the queen, she is come. Quickly, you must see her."
He sighed, rose to his feet heavily. What would he say to her? Where had she been these months past? Should he forgive her betrayal? Or should he send her away again for the sake of his people?
He stood silently at his door, almost unwilling to leave the room, unwilling to face her.
His sister Edyth met him at the threshold. She took his hand and looked into his face searchingly. "Isolde is here Marke." She paused, reached up and touched his cheek gently, "and she is with child."
"With child?" He frowned.
She nodded, almost imperceptibly.
Marke stared into her eyes. "What shall I do sister? I don't know what the right thing is to do." He shook his head, shrugged helplessly.
"You must greet her, bring her inside, offer her food and warmth and shelter, and then you must talk. Just talk to her Marke, and soon enough you will know what to do. There is no right or wrong."
He nodded. Edyth had always been wise. Given him guidance and counsel. He touched her hand and took a few steps past her, out of the room. As he reached the stairs at the end of the hall she called out to him.
He stopped and turned back towards her.
"Your people do not blame you brother. Make the decision based on your heart."
He shook his head. "But my heart is weak Edyth. My heart has betrayed me, has led our people into war and despair. How can I trust it?"
He looked at the ground.
"How can I trust my heart ever again?"
As Marke reached the top of the steep steps leading out of the keep, he stopped, and stood, and stared. Isolde was mounted on an old grey horse with Bragnae seated behind her, her hands protectively on the younger woman's shoulders. The people of the village were scattered in a loose semi circle around them, fidgeting, whispering to each other excitedly. There was an air of anticipation. The old horse began to fuss, but Leon walked forward quickly and took the bridle to steady it.
Marke briefly took in the scene, but he only had eyes for Isolde. She was as breathtakingly beautiful as ever and his heart stopped beating in his chest momentarily, as it had the very first time he laid eyes on her. He drew breath sharply.
She was a little unkempt, looked as though she had been travelling for sometime, but Marke was in awe of her. For him, her beauty could not be camouflaged no matter how much dust was on her face, no matter how unbrushed her golden tresses. She looked up towards the doorway, searching for him, and their eyes met for a moment. She gasped at the burning intensity of his stare and quickly cast her glance downwards in submission. He saw the gold of her eyelashes brush her cheek and his heart ached.
In his minds eye, he watched himself stride down the steps, lift her off of the horse and carry her to his bedchamber, strip off her dusty clothing and bathe her gently, carry her to his bed and make love to her slowly and passionately. And when he was finished he rested his head gently on her swollen belly and they slept in each other's arms.
His groin stirred with longing at the thought. He had lain with no other since the night of the betrayal, and the thought of touching her again, of kissing her again, of coming deep inside her body, made his breath quicken. But he knew that it was not possible. Not now. Maybe not ever. His life had always been constrained by the responsibilities of his position and this occasion was no exception. He didn't even know why she had returned. To imagine lying with her again was just fanciful thinking.
And she was with child.
Very much with child.
As he finally willed his feet to move and walked slowly down the steps, Kurseval stepped forward and helped Bragnae down off the horse. Isolde stayed astride the mount waiting for Marke to reach her.
When his feet touched ground level he paused, but she still would not look at him, kept her eyes averted. He walked over to the horse and patted its neck to calm it. He looked up at her; but she stared fixedly at her hands clutching the reins.
"Isolde," he said gently, "look at me."
Hesitantly, nervously, she raised her eyes to meet his. They were as he remembered. They were the eyes that haunted his dreams. Clear and blue and timeless.
"Oh, Isolde," he whispered, "how I've missed you."
He reached out his hand and she took it hesitantly, using it as balance as she slipped off of the horse. The touch of her skin sent sparks shooting up his arm and he struggled to control himself, struggled to not reach over and kiss the seductive pink curve of her lips.
"You must be tired and hungry," he said gently, "come, let us get you inside."
He kept gentle hold of her hand and helped her as they made their way slowly up the steps and into the keep. His sister was waiting and he pulled her aside, spoke to her quietly. "I need to be alone for a while. I need to go and think before I talk to her, to organise my thoughts, decide how to approach this. Could you please speak to the kitchen staff, organise some hot food and drink for them both, let them bathe, find them some clean clothes."
Edyth nodded. "Of course Marke. Go and consider your position. I will attend to them." She paused, "do you wish me to find out their story whilst they eat and bathe?"
He shook his head. "I'm going to my chambers. When she is clean and fed please send her up. Alone. We need to talk on our own. I don't want Bragnae glowering across the room at us. I need to know what she is truly thinking. What she was thinking when she left."
She put her hand on his arm. "Don't be too hard on her Marke. I think she has probably suffered enough."
He sat alone for several hours, his mind churning. But by the time he heard her tentative knock on the door, he had still not decided how he would approach the situation.
He stood and opened the door. She was clad in a simple gown with a warm wrap of blue, which accented her clear eyes. Her clean hair was still slightly damp and she had the soft fragrance of lavender. She looked small and fragile and freshly scrubbed, and as she looked up at him, his heart nearly burst from his chest.
"Isolde, come in, make yourself comfortable." He indicated to the cushion strewn benches in the antechamber of his room.
She looked around at the familiarity of the warm room, sat down on the edge of the seat. "Can I pour you some wine?" he asked gently. She nodded nervously.
He poured two cups of wine, handed one to her. Sat down on the opposite seat. She stared into her cup, trying to avoid looking him in the eye.
He looked concerned. "I can see that you're nervous. Please don't be nervous Isolde. You don't need to be frightened by me. I thought you knew that by now."
"That was before," she said quietly. "Before I betrayed you."
He sighed. "It doesn't matter what has happened Isolde. I would never hurt you. Never."
"Last time we talked you were so angry. So angry Marke."
He nodded. "Yes, I was angry. Angry and hurt and confused. You must surely understand how I felt that night. But I didn't hurt you or Tristan. I loved you both. I gave you the choice to leave."
She looked on the verge of tears and it tore at him. "I wanted to. I wanted to leave. I was so ashamed. Ashamed of betraying you. I just wanted to run. But he wouldn't. In the end it was he who wouldn't leave you."
Marke stared at her, his eyes glistening with emotion in the candlelight. "I wasn't with him when he died. I should have been with him."
"You had a battle to fight Marke. You are the king and your people needed you to fight for them. He knew you loved him. You proved it to him once and for all that night."
He sighed, "I still regret not being with him though."
"I was with him Marke."
"Was it quick?"
"Yes, soon after you left. He didn't suffer for long."
"Did he say anything?"
"Only one thing." She paused, held back her tears. "He said... 'I don't know if life is greater than death, but love was more than either.' She looked at him and a tear slowly trickled down her face. "I believe he meant it for us both, Marke. He loved me, but he loved you as a father. And in the end, his love for you was more than his love for me. That is why he couldn't leave."
Marke was silent for a few moments. Eventually he spoke, quietly. "I loved him as a son. That's why his betrayal was so cruel. Why did he just not tell me of your love when he brought you here? That's what I still don't understand."
"I think he felt duty bound. He had claimed me for you, his king, claimed me in your name." She shook her head," he didn't want you to look foolish in the eyes of my father and the other barons. Didn't want to weaken your position."
He sighed, nodded, stared into his cup.
They sat silently for a few minutes. There was an unanswered question hanging between them and neither knew how to broach the issue.
Finally, Marke raised his eyes from where they were fixed on his cup of wine, gazed at her. "When will the baby come Isolde?"
"After one more moon I think." She didn't return his gaze.
"Did you…" he hesitated. "Did you know when you left that you were with child?"
"No… no, I didn't. It wasn't long after that it became apparent though. I was ill. Couldn't eat." She shrugged. " Bragnae and I lived for as long as we could in the forest. I thought you would be looking for me, wanting to punish me, so we kept moving."
"Isolde, you must know that I would never punish you." He looked at her searchingly. "Surely you didn't think that I would want you wandering in the forest pregnant and unprotected. Surely?"
His heart sank at the thought that she was still frightened by him.
"What changed your mind?" he said quietly.
She shrugged. "A number of reasons. I wanted to see you again. Wanted to see you and tell you about the baby. I felt you deserved to know"
He glanced at her.
She continued. "Winter is coming. I knew a baby wouldn't survive a winter in the forest. I had the choice of returning to Ireland or coming here. And I never want to go back and face my father. I never want to see him again. He is an evil man Marke."
He frowned. "I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm afraid Donnchadh was killed in the battle. Along with all his men. We didn't let a single man survive. We couldn't afford to. We couldn't afford to let any of them escape back to Ireland and regroup. We had been attacked so many times over the years; when we had the chance to decimate them, we really had no choice. I'm sorry Isolde."
She shook her head, "I hated him Marke. He deserved whatever he got. He used me to get to you. I feel sorry for the men who were stupid enough to follow him. For those who lost their lives supporting a selfish man who cared for no one but himself. But I won't grieve for him."
He nodded. "I understand how you feel. But still, I hate the killing. I hate the senseless loss of life. I hate the thought that I killed your father. As your husband, it's not a thing I'm proud of."
"You had no choice Marke."
"It doesn't make it any easier to live with though." He drained his cup and stood to pour another. Took the few steps towards her and topped up her wine from the jug.
She looked up at him, touched his hand as he poured the wine. Gazed searchingly into his eyes.
"Sit with me… please."
He returned the jug to its position on the tray, slowly sat down next to her. His body thrummed with anticipation as he sat mere inches from her, close enough to reach over and touch her, kiss her.
"Marke," she spoke hesitantly, quietly. "As my husband, please understand that you mean so much more to me than my father ever did. I respect you, I look up to you, I love you."
He glanced at her, quickly.
"I didn't ever feel any of those things for my father. Ever. He killed my mother, broke her heart. And he would have eventually done the same to me."
She reached over and laid her small fair hand on his. He stopped breathing as the heat of her hand soaked into his skin.
"You are the kindest, most noble man I've ever known Marke. And I'm proud to call you my husband and my king. I was never proud to call him my father." She looked at the side of his handsome face as he stared at her hand on his. "I know it will take you a long time to forgive how I behaved, how I betrayed you. I know you may never forgive me. But I have time. All I have is time. I will wait. I will wait until you can bear to look at me again. And maybe one day we can be happy once more."
He turned his face towards her slowly, looked at her silently. Stared into her eyes as though he was trying to read her mind, trying to read the secrets of her soul.
Eventually, he spoke.
"Are you telling me you are prepared to stay at D'Or? As my wife. As my queen."
"If you will have me Marke, I would wish for nothing more. I've had enough of hiding from you. I want to help you rebuild. I want to support you in ruling your people. I want to give you heirs."
His breath caught in his chest. The thought that he must be dreaming this conversation, flashed through his mind.
"I… I have to ask you this Isolde. Please understand, I have to ask you this. The child you are carrying. Do you know?"
She shook her head sadly. "I can't be sure Marke. I can't be completely sure. But I know what I feel in my heart. And in my heart I honestly believe him to be yours."
"Him?" He frowned.
"Oh yes." She nodded. He noticed her eyes light up for the first time since she had entered his chamber. "He is strong, very, very strong. I know he is a little boy. And I do believe him to be yours."
He raised his eyebrows, questioningly. "Do you have any reason to think that he is my child other than what your heart is telling you?"
"Well, I had lain with Tristan many months before in Ireland and no child resulted from those unions. And for a long time Tristan and I were not together. Not until well after the wedding. And there were only a few times."
He rubbed his hand over his face. The thought of her lying with Tristan after they were married was like a stake through his heart.
"We were together for less than a month here. I believe that by the time I fled and by the time I became aware of the child, that I was much too far gone for the baby to have been Tristan's."
For a few moments he did not speak. He raised his eyes to hers. "Isolde, it doesn't really make a difference. If you will permit me, I will raise the child as my own even if it is apparent that he is Tristan's baby."
She smiled gently. "I know you will Marke. That is why I returned. I knew you would be fair to me. But please don't think I only returned here because I thought you would give me and my baby a home."
He shrugged. "I am satisfied with that reason though Isolde. I might flatter myself that you love me, but if it is not the case I care not. As long as you are happy to let me care for you and the child, I will be satisfied."
She reached over and touched his cheek. Hesitantly, she lent forward, brushed his face with her lips.
"You do not need to flatter yourself Marke. I truly do love you," she whispered.
He closed his eyes, exhaled slowly. He had dreamt of this moment, the moment she returned willingly to him. The moment she touched him and told him that she loved him. But he had never imagined that this scene would ever actually play out.
"Isolde," he murmured, eyes still closed. He spoke slowly, "your touch is like fire to me. It burns me with desire."
She placed her mouth to his ear, whispered quietly, "lay with me Marke. I need you. I've been so alone these past months."
He could barely breathe. The throb in his groin that had begun the moment she entered his chamber began to intensify.
"I can't… I can't Isolde, it is too soon. And I can't trust myself to not hurt you, not to hurt the child. I can't…."
She placed her hand on his chest. "You've never hurt me before Marke. I trust you. I've always trusted you. Please… please lay with me."
He opened his eyes, looked deeply into hers. "Are you sure?"
"Yes…" He watched her mouth form the word he had longed to hear for months.
Unable to resist the desire in her eyes and the invitation in her words any longer, he leant over and kissed her gently. Tentatively, he put his hand to her cheek, feathered her face with his mouth, before finally kissing her fully on the lips. Her mouth yielded to him and he felt the hot tip of her tongue reach out and find his, seductively, sensually, sexually.
It was in that instant that the barriers between them fell away. He wrapped his hand around her waist and pulled her to him. Her belly pushed against him and he ran his hand over the swell. "I need to feel you," he murmured, "I need to feel your beautiful skin. May I touch you? Please… please let me touch you again."
"Marke," there was an urgency to her voice. "I want you, undress me, take me to your bed, make love to me. Please. I need to feel your body on mine."
He couldn't speak, couldn't express to her in words how he was feeling. He was aroused in a way he had never experienced before. It was more than just desire, more than just lust, more than just sex. He was aroused by pure love for this woman, his wife.
He undressed her slowly, silently. He explored each piece of her delicious skin with his mouth as he exposed it. He wanted to claim every inch of her body, taste every inch of her skin.
And as he bared her breasts and her belly, he knelt before her on the floor. "You are so incredibly beautiful," he murmured. "Your body is so sensual, so full, so erotic."
"I thought you would hate me like this," she whispered, "I feel so unattractive, so big."
He gently kissed the curve of her swollen breasts, took the expanse of her nipple and dark areola into his mouth, while he ran his hand over her belly. "How could you ever think you are unattractive," he murmured. "You are a goddess, a giver of life, you are ripe and full and beautiful."
"Marke," she breathed, shivering with the sensation of his fingers and his mouth and his rough face against her. She ran her hands over his short soft hair.
The rough stubble of his face had long defined his manliness to her. It was something that had intrigued her when she had first become his wife, one of the ways he was so different from Tristan. Marke was dark and hard and rough under her hands, yet his voice in her ear was soft, his hands on her body were gentle, and the skin of his back was smooth and slick with sweat when she clutched at him with her desperate fingers as he rammed into her. He was a man of contradictions.
He gently eased the last of her clothes from her shoulders, leaving her naked and exposed before him.
"Stand," he murmured, and when she did, his head was level with her belly. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing her body into him. He kissed her belly gently and turned his head to lay his cheek against her taut skin. "I can feel the baby moving," he whispered. "Is this my child Isolde, do you really believe him to be my child?"
"I honestly do," she murmured, holding his head close to her, stroking his hair. "I'm so sorry Marke. I'm so sorry that you even have to ask me that question."
"I don't blame you, Isolde. The heart is a cruel master. You couldn't help whom you loved. You loved him before me. I understand that."
"But I did love you Marke. Please believe that. I did love you. I do love you"
"And I have always, always loved you Isolde. Always."
He trailed a line of kisses down the seam of her belly. And when he reached the spot where it disappeared into the fine blonde curls hiding her femininity, he curled his tongue under, separating her lips, finding the sensitive nub of her clitoris with the tip of his tongue.
"Marke," she murmured, "I don't, I can't…"
"Please Isolde," he breathed.
"No Marke, I shall fall"
He kissed each of her thighs and stood reluctantly, slowly, running his hand up the full length of her naked body, up to her face. "I love the taste of you," he whispered raggedly into her ear. He held her face and kissed her deeply, passionately "I love you Isolde."
She felt the desperate evidence of his love pressed thick and heavy and hard up against her belly. Her legs felt weak, she wanted him, wanted him totally and completely. The memory of him buried deep inside her was almost unbearable.
"Please Marke" she murmured, "please…"
He bent slightly and slipped one hand under her legs, his other arm behind her back, and carried her into the bedchamber, gently laying her naked on his bed.
"Stand" she murmured, "stand and take off your robes, I want to look at you, I want to look at your body and then I want to feel you naked against me."
She could sense his uncertainty. He was still ill at ease with exposing himself to her completely. It was not his body that he wanted covered; it was his arm that he still preferred to hide from her.
"I love you Marke," she whispered, "I love all of you. Let me see you."
He slowly and self-consciously removed his robes, averting his eyes as he did so, and she ran her eyes appreciatively down the planes of his form. When they had first lain together, she thought him to be the most beautiful man she had ever laid her eyes on. And she thought that again now.
Tristan's body had been different, smooth and virtually hairless, slighter, thinner. But for as much as she had loved Tristan, it had always been Marke's body that she lusted after. He was stronger, more muscular, his chest and belly covered with a drift of soft, warm, dark hair. His legs and his cock were thicker, heavier, his buttocks and thighs more powerful. Tristan had been beautiful and boyish, but Marke was a man. And as he stood before her naked and aroused, she was left in no doubt as to his masculinity.
"You are a spectacular man," she whispered, 'touch me, hold me, lay with me."
He looked at her hesitantly.
"Lay with me Marke," she repeated, "I need you."
He knelt on the end of the bed and moved slowly towards her, his gaze burning her eyes with his searing desire, his eyes black with lust. As he reached her, he ran his hand and his mouth up her body, before laying on his side and pulling her tight up against him, pressing her swollen breasts and belly into him.
He kissed her mouth, her face, her neck. His fingers feathering sensually over her buttocks, her back, his other arm around her head, pulling her face closer to him.
"I don't know what I should do Isolde," he whispered "I don't know how to not hurt you, how to not put pressure on the baby."
"I'm sure there are lots of ways my darling. I trust you. You were always a wonderful lover and I don't think my belly is that fragile."
He moved her gently onto her back and held himself above her with his strong arms. And like a guest feasting on a wedding banquet, he kissed her face, her neck, her breasts, her belly, her thighs. He sucked and nipped at her nipples, tantalising her with his broad tongue and she almost came from this alone. Her body felt so sensitive to his touch, alive and burning, and she raised her hips towards him in a silent plea for what she really wanted.
"I want to taste you again first," he whispered. And she held her breath as he kissed his way slowly down over her belly to the treasure that he sought.
He gently opened her legs to him with his hands and licked slowly up the length of her inner thighs, before he buried his face passionately between her legs, tasting her musky tang, lapping at her slick wetness.
"Marke," she groaned, arching her back.
He explored her with his tongue and his lips, licking her most sensitive of flesh, plunging his tongue into her. She writhed below him, and as he lapped at her slowly she felt an incredible heat, an incredible pressure building. He had brought her to this place with his sensual mouth before, in a way that Tristan had never, but this seemed so much more intense, so much more powerful than ever before.
As he sucked gently on the nub of her nerves, she felt every muscle in her body contract and for what seemed like an eternity she was suspended in nothingness, until finally she crashed. The feeling ran from her toes, up the inside of her thighs and then exploded deep within her groin like no other sensation she had ever experienced. She felt her womb tighten around the baby, filling her with an intense and almost unbearable pleasure.
She moaned uncontrollably, digging her fingers into his shoulders, and arching up into him. She wanted to speak, wanted to tell him what he was doing to her, but she was unable.
As he felt the waves of her orgasm subside, he sat up on his knees. He was desperate to be inside her but didn't want to hurt her or her precious child. Sitting back on his legs he gently edged her hips closer to him until the tip of his straining cock was barely bathed in her.
"Yes" she murmured, "I need you Marke"
He opened her legs to him widely, wrapping them around his hips.
"Tell me if this is uncomfortable," he whispered with concern.
He ran his hand under her buttocks and held her close up to him, and tentatively, began to slip into her. She was hot and slick and silky smooth and he groaned as he entered her.
"Hard, Marke," she murmured, "hard and fast."
"No, I want to do this slowly," he whispered, "I want to remember this night Isolde, I want to remember this moment, I want to remember the feeling of your body around me."
He was buried fully inside her and she almost wept with the sensation of being completely and utterly filled by him.
"You feel wonderful inside me."
She moved her hips desperately up against him.
"You are everything to me Isolde, please understand that. I love you with my heart and with my soul. I have dreamed of this moment for months. But I never, ever thought I would make love to you again."
He paused, put his head back, eyes closed.
"But now I'm here, now I'm in pure heaven, I don't want it to be over. I'm terrified that once it is over I will awake."
She spoke quietly. "This is real, I promise you. I promise you I will be here forever my beautiful man. You can do this to me now and tomorrow and the next day and the next, for the rest of our lives. I will never leave you again Marke. Please forgive me. Please make love to me."
And as he held her hips high against him and began to thrust deeply into her, she closed her eyes and gave herself over to the feelings in her body. How she remembered this, how she remembered him.
Tristan had been tentative and gentle and for her first time, their first time, she thanked him for it. It had been precious and right. But once Marke had taken her to his bed, Tristan was no longer enough.
Marke took her like a man, like a king. He was powerful and forceful, like a battering ram between her thighs, and he took her to heights of ecstasy that Tristan had only skirted the boundary of. And he did so again now, the pent up desire in his eyes finding release at last.
"I don't want to hurt you Isolde," he gasped as he slammed into her.
"You could never hurt me Marke, I was made for you, we fit together like pieces of a puzzle."
He unwrapped her legs from around his hips and, gently licking and kissing her feet and ankles, placed her feet on his shoulders next to his ears. Then he rose up on his knees and increased the intensity of his thrusts. The change in angle had him ramming deeper than ever, hard up against the sensitive spot inside of her and within what seemed like seconds her body imploded into pure pleasure. It coursed through her veins up to her brain and down to her toes. She could feel the muscles inside her pulsing around him, could feel her womb contract hard around the baby.
As she gasped his name, she moved his hand to her belly and he looked at her in wonder. "I can feel you," he murmured "I can feel you pulling me into you, sucking me; I can feel your belly contracting. You are everything to me Isolde, everything."
And with that he threw his head back and roared his release long and loud. She felt his powerful climax explode inside her filling her with his passion, deep and hard and hot.
"My king" she murmured, "I am yours."
He leaned over and blew out the last candle, and as the room disappeared into darkness, he lay back down on the bed behind her. She was lying on her side, a pillow under her belly supporting its weight. He pressed his body as close as he could to hers, moulding himself to the curves of her form.
"It feels so right having you here again," he murmured, "in my arms, in our bed."
"And I feel right being here," she whispered. "I felt lost and alone in the forest without you."
"You had Bragnae."
"Bragnae isn't you Marke."
He draped his arm over her body and ran his hand over her full breasts and her pregnant belly. "What an incredible body you have. What an incredible gift to be able to produce life."
"I feel clumsy though, big and clumsy and uncomfortable."
"In my eyes, and in my hands, you are wildly erotic and sensual," he growled. "I already want to make love to you again, but I know you need to rest."
She smiled exhaustedly to herself, feeling him thick and hard against her back. "I'm sorry," she murmured, barely able to keep her eyes open.
For the first time in months she felt safe and protected, nestled deep in his arms, in the warmth of their bed. She was home at last and she knew they would never, ever be apart again.
"I love you Isolde," he whispered gently into her ear. "I love you and I love this incredible gift that you have brought me. Thankyou for coming back to me, my love. You have made me happier than any man on this night."
But she was already sleeping. He kissed her cheek and closed his eyes, rested his face against her neck.
She was home at last and he knew they would never, ever be apart again.