The bed sheets rustled as she fidgeted in her bed, her body slowly waking from its slumber. Her eyes flickered open, only to be greeted by the bright morning sunlight. Birds chirped happily outside as they greeted the new sunrise.
"Go back to sleep you stupid lark," she almost snapped, turning her head away from the window. The laundry of the bedding and the musky scent of the man next to her invaded her nostrils as she buried her face in the sheets, hiding herself from the daybreak.
She dosed peacefully for a few more moments, only to be awakened by the weight of the bed shifting next to her as her husband rolled onto his side, apparently now awake. His hands caressed the curves of her body as his warm breath tickled her cheek.
"Since when did mornings become so horrible?" he whispered in her ear.
"Since I've been sleepy," she grumbled into the sheets.
She heard him snicker as the proximities between their bodies closed.
She squealed in surprise as he centered his weight on top of her, entering her with pleasurable slowness allowing warm waves to cascade across her form. Loving whispers fell from her pink lips as he began to ride her, her legs wrapped around his torso. Their hips moved together in perfect unison as they became one again and again. Her back arched as she released ecstatic moans, her body twichtting in satisfaction as she came for him. He ran his hands across her soft form, kissing her passionately as they made love in the morning sunlight. His seed spilled into her as he collapsed on top of her body.
"I love you Elizaveta," he whispered into her neck.
"I love you too Gilbert," she whispered back. "Thanks for waking me up."
She jumped when a pillow soon met her face as she listened to Gilbert's classic snicker of a laugh. Slowly lifting the cushion from her face she glared at him, only to return the pillow to him with a big whack to his head.
He grabbed it from her and tackled her, ensuing a mixture of a wrestling match and a pillow fight, conjuring laughs from both parties. The sheets rustled, bed springs squeaked, and feathers flew everywhere.
A simple knock on the bedroom door brought an end to their morning tryst. The wood echoing throughout the room like a deep bell, signifying the end of playtime.
"Mr Beilschmidt," the maid's voice timidly called, having heard the noises emitting from the couples room. "A messenger has come with the weeks mail, he insists it only be put in the hands of the master of the house."
"Give him some coffee Hilga, I'll be down in a few minutes," Gilbert responded, hesitantly standing from the bed to get dressed and head downstairs. Yet Eliaveta's arms circled his neck, keeping him near the edge of the bed. "Can't we just stay like this forever, Gil. No other life but you and me, no messengers, no other world. Just us," she whispered into his neck, nipping at his ear.
He turned around and took her in his arms, holding her close. "Don't we already? I already see it, the only thing missing is your smile from what I can tell," he said planting a kiss on her lips, which a smile had just sprouted from. One of his hands wandered down to the small taut bump that was her belly, that was currently teeming with a new life form.
He forced himself to push away and get dressed, knowing these messengers could be impatient when it came to their schedule. Walking across the bare wooden floor he quickly dressed himself and left the room just as he was throwing on his vest and running a hand through his messy hair.
His boots clattered against the wooden steps as he descended into the simple foyer of his home, all constructed out of simple dark wood, basic yet sparse furniture, a simple rug, and the walls bare occasionally decorated with a trophy of stag antlers. The messenger Hilga told him about, was standing by the doorway, she never mentioned he was an army messenger. The blue brocade of his jacket and hat informed him of this. The soldier saluted him as he approached.
"What news do you bring?" Gilbert asked, straitening his posture. A habit that came with his years of military service.
"I bring news from General Fitzwilliam, who sends his regards and his congratulations to your family and requests that you report to him at the capital before the end of the month, he must speak to you concerning issues of national defense and security," he said in a strict manner with a deep baritone voice.
"Your news and mail, sir" said the soldier procuring a package of documents and papers.
Gilbert took the package, paid him his dues, and the man departed in haste, just as Hilga entered with a tray carrying a coffee pot and cup.
"Don't tell me he left already," she said just as Gilbert closed the front door. "All this good coffee gone to waste, what a shame."
"You can put it on the table Hilga, I think we'll enjoy it with breakfast this morning," he said calmly, fingering the bindings of the package as the maid hurried away on her arthritic limbs.
Gilbert stared down at the number of pamphlets in his hands, trying to measure the amount of work he had ahead of him. This amount of work would measure out to be the same amount of time he would rather spend out in the woods hunting or in bed with his wife. But yet a living had to be made and despite what his military acquaintances thought he lived very simply, just within the boundaries of his means.
He let a sigh escape his lips as he heard the rest of the house slowly awakening. The clattering of dishes from the kitchen where Hilga worked, the closing and opening of doors as the snapped in and out of their latches, Elizaveta's skirts tickling the floors as she made her way out of their bedroom, and the pounding footsteps of his younger brother as he began his morning.
Ludwig sat in a chair by the window, his nose buried in a book as the morning sunlight streamed in around him. Elizaveta sat at the table, nibbling on a piece of toast as she sipped her coffee. "Don't you want anything to eat Ludwig?" she asked, staring at him.
"I'm not hungry," he said bluntly.
"Are you sure?"
"Really Ludwig?" she continued, being persistent.
Ludwig sighed, annoyed, not lifting his eyes from the book he read.
"Whats so funny?" Elizaveta asked, turning her focus to Gilbert, who sat next to her at the table.
"Your not even half-way through your pregnancy and your already acting like a mother," Gilbert responded.
"I am?" she questioned with slight bewilderment.
"Ja," he replied in the same fashion as Ludwig, only with more casual lightheartedness.
Elizaveta sighed. "So what did the messenger say?"
"Just some military news," he replied munching on his toast.
"That I'll be needed in Berlin sometime this month, he wasn't that specific. Oh and Fitz sends his congratulations."
Her hands wandered to the small swell of her stomach. "We haven't told anyone yet. How did he find out?"
"Like I've told you before Ellie, the man is a god. Nothing gets past him."
"I know Gil, but still its rather disturbing how much he knows about his officers…and their wives."
"Maybe its cause he doesn't know his at all." Gilbert said with a small chuckle as he sipped at his coffee. Lowering the mug from his face he noticed the most recent newspaper sticking out from the package of pamphlets and letters that he had yet to go through.
"Hey Ludwig, care to read the paper for me?" Gilbert exclaimed, holding it up to Ludwig tauntingly. Ludwig instantly snapped his book shut, strolled over to the table and snatched the newspaper from Gilbert's grasp as he took his place at the table, tearing through the paper eagerly.
The couple exchanged glances. Gilbert grinned at his wife with a look that read, "Thats how you get him to sit at the table." Elizaveta could only roll her eyes.
The printed paper rustled as Ludwig tore through it. "You guys know Mr. Edelstein, right?"
Elizaveta's emerald eyes became downcast and Gilbert's grip on his coffee cup tightened. "Unfortunately," he responded curtly.
"Apparently his company is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and he's currently searching for other sorts of funding so 'the board can continue to tread water', as the reporter puts it," explained Ludwig as he continued reading.
"I find that hard to believe," exclaimed Elizaveta.
"Whys that Ellie?" Gilbert questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"He was always so careful with his money, never spent a penny without good reason. I'd say he's just about as frugal as the Swiss are. It doesn't sound like him to declare bankruptcy."
"Things change Ellie, neither of us have seen him in years. Who knows what he's been up to or gotten involved in since then. He probably had it coming as far as I'm concerned," Gilbert said, failing to hide the strong dismay in his voice.
It was then Ludwig finally looked up from his readings. "Why don't you like him bruder?" he asked, his blue eyes wide with curiosity.
"I have my reasons," he said, unknowingly fisting his hand that sat on the table, which Elizaveta took into her hands.
"I used to work for him," she began. "Gil wasn't fond of the way he treated me. I had no problem with it, I actually didn't notice it till he pointed it out, but it wasn't to big of a deal."
"He looked at you as if you where a possession Ellie, as if you belonged to him. Besides thats not the only thing I have against him, theres also a lifetime of quarrels and disagreements that are one too many to mention," he explained, feeling the metal of Elizaveta's wedding ring press against the flesh of his hand.
'Relax,' he told himself. 'She's not Roderich's, she's yours.'
Elizaveta gently stroked his fist with her thumb, until he relaxed and intertwined his fingers with hers. He raised his gaze to find a gentle smile on her lips and his years of pent up anger slip away.
Ludwig turned back to his reading, his eyes dancing across the page as the blue orbs darted back and forth at lightening speed.
"Did the messenger say anything about sightings of Austrian soldiers?" Ludwig asked several minutes later, just as the coffee cups where nearing their final drops.
"He did mention defense and security, but this is the first I'm hearing about it," Gilbert replied.
"Apparently there have been several sightings not far from here, one witness says that it appeared as if they where just scouting in search of something," Ludwig read from the paper.
"What on earth would the Austrians want in Prussia?" Elizaveta asked.
"I could ask the same question, maybe thats what Fritz wanted to speak to me about," said Gilbert scratching his chin in thought.
"When do you plan to leave for Berlin?" Elizaveta asked, as she watched the seven year old blonde gaze at his older brother, wanting to know the same answer as her.
"I was going to wait till the end of the month, as I always do. But I think the end of this week would be the best thing to do now."
"Lets hope that its not a serious as we think it is."
Elizaveta dusted the dirt from her hands on her apron before wiping the sweat from her brow. Pushing away the loose hairs that had escaped the confines of her bandana she continued pulling the weeds from the garden, letting the hot summer sun beat down on her back. The occasional cool breeze brought slight relief from the heat.
"Do you need any help Elizaveta?" Hilga called out to her, pausing in her laundry work as she scrubbed the various garments.
"I'm fine Hilga, but thank you," she said honestly. Hilga had made it a habit of asking her that question for the past few months. At first it was thoughtful, but it had now become annoying. She may be pregnant but she wasn't a cripple.
She always enjoyed being outside. Breathing in the fresh air under the sun, and listening to the whispers of the trees as their leafy branches danced in the wind. But for some reason, she couldn't enjoy it as much as she used to. Gilbert had left for Berlin five days ago. It was common for him to be gone for a week or more when these occasions arose, but with the continued whispers of soldiers sneaking through the woods she became more anxious with every passing day. While Gilbert had taught her how to use a rifle and wield a sword, she still felt safer whenever he was near and she looked forward to his return.
As she finished weeding the garden she plucked a ruby red berry from its bush and popped it into her mouth, savoring the sweetness of its fresh juices. One by one she plucked the berries gathering them in a small basket. Flicking the dirt from her skirts she stood from the ground, basket in hands as she made her way inside. She stopped in the doorframe as a red shadow caught her eye.
The house was hidden deep within the woods of Prussia, surrounded by a thick and lush green forest. A bright red military jacket amongst the greenery, would stick out like a sore thumb. Elizaveta stared, probably longer then she should have at the figure, trying to recall its familiarity. When she recognized it as an Austrian soldier her stomach dropped.
She hastily entered the house and set the berries aside.
"Hilga could you come help me for a moment?" she called back out to the old maid, whose arms where soaked with watery suds.
Hilga obeyed and the very second she stepped inside the house. Elizaveta slammed the door shut and locked it behind her.
"My goodness whats gotten into you girl?" Hilga said confounded at her actions.
"I saw a soldier at the edge of the forest!"
"Why on earth would a soldier be here?" Hilga asked, unsure of what to think about the fear that had overtaken her mistress in those few seconds.
"I don't know and I don't want to find out, I just want Gil to come home soon," she paused to take a breath. "Could you make sure that Ludwig is inside and that all the doors are locked."
Hilga nodded and scurried off, not wanting to find out either.
The next half hour flew by in a rush as the members of the household dashed around the the floors locking, securing, and double checking every single door, window, and opening the house possessed. Eventually the frenzy died down and silence ensued. There was nothing to do now but wait.
For the next three days it rained and the greenery surrounding the house remained silent. Its three occupants went about their days as they normally would, only on tiptoes and wary of every sound that would occur. Elizaveta couldn't help but push aside the curtains every so often and gaze out onto the front yard of the house. Her eyes often saw nothing except the typical wildlife of woodland creatures, but yet she couldn't bring herself to ignore the dismal emotion of foreboding that sat in the pit of her stomach like a heavy weight.
The rained continued to pour in thick heavy drops on the evening of the third day. Thunder crashed and boomed outside in the dark gray sky, that sat on top of the trees like a thick blanket. The branches of the trees twirled and shook as if in pain from the great force of wind that constantly roared across the usually peaceful landscape.
The three sat in the dining room at the table. The tea had long since grown cold and they took to passing the time with a few card games. Elizaveta soon gave up and took to watching Hilga and Ludwig play, sitting back in her chair with a simple shawl draped over her shoulders and long golden-brown locks loose from its bandana and bindings. Thunder would occasionally boom, shaking the whole house and vibrating the window panes, causing all three to jump in their seats.
As twilight neared one large sound of thunder came, and again and again and again, like a steady drumbeat. As the fifth deep pulse resonated throughout the house they realized that it was no thunder, but someone banging at their front door. Elizaveta timidly stood up and made her way towards the house's foyer, but not before retrieving the small handgun Gilbert kept hidden behind a small wall panel. The other two remained where they sat at the table, their playing cards frozen in their hands.
She cautiously entered the foyer, hiding amongst the shadows of the dark home, her eyes fixed on the front entrance. Slowly she clicked the safety off and pointed it at the door, waiting for whoever it was to enter.
The doors abruptly swung open and the storm's elements of wind and water poured into the foyer, soaking the carpet and floor while blowing loose articles array. A dark clad figure entered, fighting the wind and elements to close the door behind him. The black cloak he wore dripped with water and his worn leather boots where caked with mud.
The man removed his cloak and hung it on the coat rack, his form weary with exhaustion from travel. Upon seeing the pale skin and hair, Elizaveta set the gun aside, she wouldn't need it anymore. Gilbert was home.
"So your absolutely certain it was an Austrian soldier you saw?" Gilbert asked once more as they lay curled up together in their bed, the gentle warmth of the candlelight surrounding them.
"Yes Gil, I am absolutely certain. I know what I saw. I spent many years in Austria, I think I would know one when I saw one," she said, reassuring him, her head buried in his chest.
"A regiment will be arriving here in a few days to patrol this region. We'll sort it out when they get here," he said through tired eyes as his head fell back against his pillow.
Elizaveta couldn't help but agree with him as her own eyelids grew heavy. Reaching over to the bedside table she blew out the sole candle that lit the room, before curling back up next to her husband.
She had only closed her eyes for a few moments when she heard Gilbert whisper, "I dreamt of you the other night Ellie."
"It was us, right before I helped you flee from his estate. Yet…in the dream…you wanted to stay."
Elizaveta listened to the gentle beating of his heart as he continued. "If I never asked you to run away with me, would you have stayed? Did you want to stay?"
"Of course I wanted to leave. I wasn't the only one who wanted to stretch my legs, see the world, live a different life. I wouldn't have said yes if I didn't want to leave Gil, I wouldn't have said anything at all if I didn't love you."
She felt Gilbert's hand in her hair and his lips on hers, just as they both drifted off together into the peaceful oblivion of sleep.
The storm had soon quieted down and the silence of the night cradled the small home and its occupants in a delicate web. Crickets and nightingales sang softly, harmonizing the simple lullaby of the night.
The peaceful silence was soon shattered as a roaring bob of equine flesh pounded their hooves against the dirt road as they made their way through the forest and surrounded the house. Deep neighs and whinnies escaped their throats as their riders harshly pulled back on their reins, making them skid on their hooves to a stop, kicking up dust in the process.
Jet black leather boots dashed across the ground, keeping themselves within the shadows as they pooled beneath the wood of the front door, pounding the butts of their muskets against the frame, denting and splitting the thick wood.
The door banged open, shaking it on its hinges as the red coated soldiers pooled inside, spreading throughout the house like wildfire.
Elizaveta stirred in her sleep from the loud ruckus that sounded from down below, but paid it no mind and curled up closer to Gilbert. Yet it only took a few seconds for the door to their bedroom to burst open and the fire to engulf them. Within moments her eyes where wide with horror as she felt the gruff hands of soldiers grasping her body, pulling her from her bed.
"Gil!" she cried out in horror, as she was ripped from the safety of his side.
Gilbert was still half asleep when he was pulled from his bed and dropped unceremoniously onto the floor, his face painfully smacking against the floorboards as the bones in his nose cracked.
He heard Elizaveta cry as he was hauled to his feet and hustled away from her. Looking back at her he saw tears in her eyes as she reached out for him.
That was his last he saw of her before his precious Ellie disappeared from view.
"You have blood on your face," he greeted, entering the dining room with his nose in the air.
Gilbert looked up from where he sat at the table, his body heavy with sleep and shame of defeat. A trail of red blood had traced its way from his nostril to the corners of his lips. The metallic taste now coated his mouth in a thin film, even though the bleeding had ceased. Two red-coated guards stood behind him, keeping eagle eyes on him, to make sure he behaved accordingly for their employer.
The whole situation made Gilbert feel uncomfortable, if not angry due to recent events. But upon laying eyes on the person who entered the room, he instantly became more then furious.
"You have a mole," he snapped as the Austrian slowly pulled the leather gloves from his thin hands, unfazed by Gilbert's words.
"So tell me Beilschmidt," he began taking a spot across from Gilbert at the small table. "Why have you kept Miss Hedervary here all these years?"
Gilbert narrowed his eyes, not liking where the conversation was going. "Her name is Mrs. Beilschmidt now."
Roderich sighed leaning back in his chair, his nose twitching slightly, not used to sitting in a chair without a cushion. "Well, this makes things more difficult."
"What are you after Roderich?"
"Isn't it obvious, I've come to get whats rightfully mine."
Gilbert grew nervous. Roderich brought an army regiment with him. As long as he remained powerless Roderich, his worst enemy, had the means to accomplish any ends. ANY ends.
"I'm afraid you won't find anything of that sort here. Nothing, no one, here belongs to you!"
"I strongly beg to differ. If it wasn't for you corrupting her mind, leading her astray, and eventually kidnapping her she would have been mine!" Roderich retorted.
"Well sorry that you missed the wagon. She chose me, not you. So why don't you get back on your pony go back to your mansion and piddle away on your piano," Gilbert nearly yelled at him, clenching his fists that sat in his lap.
Roderich's eyebrow twitched in anger. Turning his violet eyes to the men behind Gilbert he simply said, "Get him out of here. Before he causes trouble."
Gilbert instantly felt his arms grabbed and his body pulled from the chair. Roderich only straightened his waist coat as Gilbert was ushered toward the door. Fear rose in his throat as his stomach dropped.
"Wheres Ellie, Roderich?" he asked, pulling against the soldiers.
Roderich ignored him. His only motions where that of him procuring his pocket watch from his jacket, clicking it open, and examining the clock's face.
"Wheres Ellie?" he shouted again, the echoes of his screams remaining even after he was removed from the room.
"I swear I'll kill you for this one day you pint sized pansy pianist!" Gilbert screamed, followed by more profanities and curses then most men even knew existed.
"Why didn't you gag him?" Roderich calmly asked a soldier, as they stood in the front doorway, observing the scene before them.
"We thought the blindfold would be more effective in the long run sir," the soldier answered.
Gilbert sat astride a horse, his legs locked into the stirrups of the saddle, a jet black blind fold covered his eyes and his hands where chained around the neck of the timid beast. The horse clomped its hooves, made nervous by the volume of noise procuring from its unwanted and unruly rider. The horses mane tickled his face and nose in a way that made him sneeze every minute or so.
His form shivered, goosebumps rising on his skin, in the midnight air. Only being clad in a simple pair of trousers and his thin night shirt.
The horse rocked back and forth on its legs. A small soldier holding its reigns, looking to the two men standing in the doorway, waiting for his captain to give him the signal. Gilbert ground his teeth in anger, sensing the tension, shaking the shackles around his wrists in an effort to free himself, even though the heavy weight to the chains soon proved it to be futile.
"Should we let him say goodbye to his wife, before we set him loose into the woods?" the captain asked.
"She's not his wife," Roderich curtly responded, turning away from the door frame, taking a few steps into the foyer. He listened as the horse neighed as its flank was smacked, and its hooves pounding on the ground as it sped fearfully into the woods, both the horse and Gilbert disappearing completely in the thick brush.
Turning back to the captain Roderich said, "Tell them to gather their things, I want to be heading back toward Austria before dawn.
A/N: I've had this in my documents for awhile. First of many chapters yet to be written. I just thought I'd upload this and see what people think, sort of as an experiment. Otherwise I won't continue. I'm relying on demand here. So if you wanna know what happens next leave a review or story alert, whatever.
I'm in the midst of completing another story right now, so if I do update it might be in a few weeks or so. So until then let me know what you think, review and above all enjoy!