Laica awoke slowly, stretching her bare toes under the sheets, luxuriating in the feel of silk against her skin. She greedily wrapped herself in the sheet as she rolled over, giggling at how put out Sebastian would be when she stripped him of the bedding. But there was no response. Her giggles died away in the silence and she sat up, confused.

He was gone.

She clutched the sheets to her chest, thinking quickly. A quick survey of the room confirmed that she was, in fact, in Starkhaven. The windows were intact, the door securely closed, and no blood stains on the floor. She was about to rule out the possibility of assassins when she considered the fact that they could be hiding in one of the closets.

She inched towards her nightstand, and slid open the drawer as quietly as she could. She had only just retrieved her knife when the door began to open.

She clutched the knife tighter. "Identify yourself," she demanded.

The sound of Sebastian's soft laugh made her feel foolish almost instantly. She hid the knife away before he could see it. "So suspicious, my love."

"Where did you go," she pouted, gathering the sheets about her as he entered the room, bearing a wooden tray.

He gave her that little half-smile that always gave her a tingly feeling down her spine. "To the kitchens," he said, depositing the tray on the bed. "I am of the opinion that a gentleman always makes a lady breakfast after, well..." he blushed slightly.

Feeling coquettish, Laica crawled towards him. "After she shows him that trick with the tongue?" she grinned.

"Yes, well," he cleared his throat. "That was something of a revelation, I must admit."

"So," she purred, stretching out on her stomach. "What did you make me? I'm famished."

"Waffles," he proclaimed with boyish pride. "With a banana and walnut sauce."

It certainly smelled good. "What's waffles?" she asked, "and bananas?"

He looked at her disbelievingly. "Is that a joke? You've never had bananas before?"

She shrugged. "Nope. Is it some kind of pastry?"

"What? No!" he exclaimed, flabbergasted. "It's a fruit and... are you sure you've never had a banana before?"

"Nope," she touched a finger to the sauce and slowly licked it off. "But I'm interested in trying it." She winked. "I'm willing to try anything at least once."

He gazed at her a long while, and she gazed back at him, feeling the heat in that look. "Just the once?" he asked finally, the half-smile returning.

"Well, maybe twice. If you ask nicely," she tossed her hair back and kicked a foot up behind her. "So, do you just eat this with your hands, or..."

"Oh, what nonsense," he muttered patting the pockets of his dressing gown. "I forgot the silverware. If you'll excuse me," and he got up to go back to the kitchens.

"Don't be long," Laica said, feeling petulant. She was hungry and the waffles smelled very, very good. Like a cross between cake and griddle cakes. And cinnamon. There was definitely cinnamon. Maybe nutmeg? And a warm, rich, fruity smell that was like vanilla but not as spicy and she wondered if maybe that was the bananas and Maker what was taking him so long, anyway?

She tore off a small bit of the waffle (which was so helpfully divided into squares, how grand!) and balanced a slice of banana and a piece of walnut on top and ate it.

It was even more delicious then it smelled. And the texture of smooth bananas and crunchy walnuts and spongy waffle made it even more tasty. Carefully licking the cinnamony syrup off her thumb and pointer finger, she resolved to wait patiently until he returned. She was Viscountess of Kirkwall and Princess of Starkhaven, after all. It wouldn't do to eat breakfast with her hands.

Her stomach grumbled as she crossed her hands in her lap and stared at the tray. He also had included a cup of tea and a little bud vase with some flowers that she didn't recognize.

She was going to reach for the flowers and try to identify them but somehow her hands went straight for the waffles and she began tearing off more squares as daintily as she could, taking care to not get syrup on her face and hands.

By the time he had returned she had devoured nearly a third of the breakfast. "Laica!" he exclaimed. "I told you I was returning directly!"

"I was really hungry and they smelled so good. Is that nutmeg I'm tasting?" she asked as he handed her a knife and fork.

"Yes, actually," he grinned, stretching out next to her on the bed. "Do you taste anything else?" he asked, brushing her hair behind her ear.

"Hmmm," she chewed slowly, "oh! I know! Is it cloves?"

"Yes!" he said, laughing. "Now you know all my secrets."

"You still have me at a disadvantage, ser," she said archly, sopping up some syrup with a bit of waffle. "Here I am in my altogether, and you're fully dressed."

"Hm, yes," he sipped some tea and she could feel his eyes on her body. "I can see where I have landed the better position."

"The way I see it," she continued, "there are two ways we could resolve this inequity. Either I can get dressed..."

"No, that solution is quite unacceptable." He shook his head, frowning slightly. "You are dressed far too often as it is."

"Or," she tried to keep a straight face. "You could join me in my natural state. And then we shall be on level footing once more."

"Far be it from me to admit impediments to the marriage of true equals," he said grandly, before stripping his dressing gown and settling back on the bed, hands crossed behind his head, naked as a jaybird.

"Much better," Laica said, feeling very happy indeed. "Here," she lifted a forkful to him. "You have some."

He leaned forward and she tried to shield him from the syrup that was dripping onto her hand, but she wasn't quite deft enough and some ended up drizzled on his chest.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she put the fork back on the tray and searched for a napkin. "Oh, sod it. You forgot napkins!"

"Oh," he said in completely unsurprised tone. "Silly me."

She looked back at him. "However shall we resolve this situation?"

He shrugged. "You're a creative sort. I'm sure you'll think of something."

She wriggled over to him, until she was straddling his thighs. "Something like this?" she asked as she bent down and lapped the syrup from his chest, feeling his growing arousal.

"I knew I could trust you," he smiled, caressing her legs.

"What would you do without me?" she sighed dramatically.

"I would be quite sticky indeed," he said in mock horror. "Wait, where are you going?" he asked, genuinely distressed as she clambered back off of him.

"I'm still hungry!" She declared, reaching for her fork. "I went through a great deal of exertion last night and built up an appetite." She said it as matter-of-factly as she could, betraying not a hint of her plan.

He groaned and rolled his eyes. "You are an evil woman, Laica Hawke."

"Whoops!" She said, turning back to him. "I'm so clumsy!" And she noted with pleasure as his eyes followed the thin line of syrup she had drizzled across her breasts and then down between them. "I'm afraid you are the one who must be resourceful now, my darling."

He sat up and leaned over until he was walking toward her on his hands. She lay flat and he swept the tray from the bed before starting just above her navel and slowly, carefully, licking her. She shivered under his tongue, and tried to clutch him to her.

"No, no," he mock-scolded her. "It won't do to get us both sticky."

She writhed in frustration as he held her down and dragged his tongue across her breasts, teasing the nipples until she could feel every nerve in her body flare with desire. "You wretched, wretched man," she panted, struggling against him.

He stopped and looked at her, expression stern. "We did things your way last night. Would you deny me my turn?"

"Are you seriously lecturing me on patience?" she asked, agog. "I waited six years for you to kiss me!"

His eyes softened as he looked at her. "You did," he said before lowering himself over her and kissing her deeply. "I will make up for lost," he promised, murmuring against her neck and raising goosebumps along her skin.

She sighed and parted her legs and guided himself into her with one fluid movement. She arched her back, allowing him to fill her completely.

He moved within her deliberately, and Laica had to admit to herself that this was not a wholly terrible method. The previous evening had been a whirlwind of shredded clothing and scratched backs and filling a need in both of them that had grown so vast that to satisfy it required a passion that bordered on ferocity.

But in the bright light of dawn he was taking his time, and she watched as he closed his eyes and bowed his head in a way that looked almost reverent. She reveled in the feeling of his skin against hers, the feeling of him moving inside of her. She drifted her fingers along his arms and his back, wishing she could memorize the feel of every inch of him the way she had memorized the feeling of his hand in hers.

He slid an arm under her to hold her closer to him, and then lifted her until she was sitting upright in his lap. He left lingering kisses on her breasts as she began to find her rhythm in this new position.

"Why do I get the feeling," she struggled to think clearly. "That you have been thinking about something like this for a long time."

"Hush," he smiled as he reached between them and began to tease her between her legs. "I was perfectly in control of myself at all times, and never once concocted elaborate plans about how I would make love to you if I ever had the opportunity."

She shuddered at his touch, feeling the waves of pleasure begin to rush together. "Is it better in reality?"

"Incomparable," was all he said, and kissed her again. She dug her fingers into his thick hair and rolled her hips, nearing her peak as she worked him ever deeper into her. He broke the kiss and whispered in her ear, "Will you come for me, my love?"

"Yes," she gasped. And then repeated as the waves came crashing down on her. Her gasps turned into cries, and then he cried out as well, thrusting deep into her.

She slumped forward, breathing heavy. "Oh, Maker," she breathed. "I'm going to have to learn how to control that," she laughed at herself as she disentangled from him.

"Control what, exactly?" he arched an eyebrow at her.

"The whole... screaming... thing," she lay back, languid.

"No," he shook his head somberly. "No, that is a very good thing."

She propped her head up on her hand. "What makes you so sure? I would think that it would lead to rumors. And don't you Marchers prefer more, shall we say, demure behavior from their royalty?"

"Usually, yes," he nodded. "However, it is up to us to rebuild the entire Vael family. A little reassurance that we are putting forth our best effort to do just that is most welcome."

She flopped over on him and giggled. "Well in that case, we should endeavor to reassure them as often as possible."

He kissed her on the forehead. "It's always better when you listen to reason, my love. But, regrettably, I must leave you for a short time."

"What for?" she cried, grasping him tightly. "I want you to stay!"

"I have to take a bath, Laica!" he protested, extricating himself from her arms. "I think I have syrup in my hair. It's uncomfortable."

She bit back a smile. "That's a good idea, I'll come with you."

"Don't be ridiculous," he scoffed as he pulled on his robe. "You have your own baths, you don't have to share."

"Tell me something," she mused, twirling her hair around a finger. "What do you think I've been thinking about for the last six years or so, anyway? You know, while you were busy with not at all thinking about different ways you'd like to make love to me, that is."

"Well, I..." he paused, eyes widening slightly. "Oh. Oh. Well then. By all means."