Playing with Fire

Viverescribere

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"I can't-- I can't do it--" Carina shook her head which was soon pushed back into the pillow as she satisfied her urge to push. "Just pant for me now, Your Majesty, get some breath back, take a moment... now again. Push!" The midwife instructed, her and her assistant bracing the Queen's feet against their thighs.

She followed each instruction for another two hours, feeling her stores of energy becoming depleted with each hard push she provided to try and bring their baby into the world. At one point some ice was expelled from the hand tangled within the bedsheets beside her, leaving a thin layer of frost over the fabric. In more pain than she would have cared to have been in at that point, Carina was too occupied with that to notice the layer of sweat that had formed over her body. It made her body glisten, a faint sheen to the hollow of her throat and it matted her hair to her face and neck. Her cheeks were flushed with effort but her grip around Sven's hand was weakening slightly as the mother-to-be grew tired.

"I can see the head. Two last big pushes for me, Your Majesty. Only two more." The midwife informed her as Carina collapsed after her latest lot of pushing.

Her eyes closed, nose scrunching up slightly in her exhaustion. "I can't-- I'm so tired." She sobbed quietly, fearing that she lacked the strength to bring their child into the world. "I can't keep... going. So tired."

The midwife looked up, shaking her head, "You're so close, Your Majesty. You can't stop now. Only two more. Two more and then you'll have baby in your arms, I promise."

Carina turned her head to press the side of her face into the pillow, body briefly reacting to the pain before she squeezed her eyes tight and began to push again as she had been instructed. She barely heard the midwife exclaim when the baby's head had arrived, and only felt relief as all urges to push and the pain dimmed to a dull ache on the second push.

Her eyes snapped open at the sound of crying. A loud, healthy, cry.

Her head instantly lifted from the pillow, searching for the a glimpse of her child. Carina wanted to slap the midwife's hand away when she was force to lay back down, being told to rest. The midwife's assistant had her back to the royal couple, clearly wiping down the baby and wrapping their child up in a blanket.

"Are-- Are they okay? T-they were crying, that... that means they're okay, right?" She panted, glancing to Sven before desperately looking back toward where their child was being held.

The midwife helped Carina through the final stages of the labour before coming around to help the new mother sit up properly. Carina winced at the aches and after-pains she was still experiencing, body feeling weak as it now started its recovery. The midwife then went over to her assistant, performing some final checks before taking the bundle from the younger girl and carrying it over to the couple. She smiled warmly, looking between the two.

"You have a son. Congratulations." She gently placed the bundle into Carina's arms, "Now, it's important to get him feeding, and used to feeding, as soon as possible. The quicker he becomes used to it, the easier it will be." She explained, but the young queen was too in awe at the baby in her arms.

She quietly widened the slight gap that was left for their baby's face to poke out, tears immediately welling in her eyes as she stared down. "A son..." She whispered, finally looking up to Sven. She hiccupped a small laugh, using her free hand to wipe at tears that had dropped onto her cheeks, "We have a son."
 

potassiumboron

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For those two hours, Sven barely felt like he could even breathe, such was the tension building within him. He felt helpless when Carina was going through so much pain and exhausting herself and he couldn't literally do nothing to physically help her situation; it was something she was just going to have to see through by herself with only the urging and encouragements from him and the midwives to get her through. It didn't feel like it was enough, not when words wouldn't distract from the pain of trying to birth another human, but what else could he do?

Holding her hand, comforting her with promises that she was almost there and gushing over how proud of her he was... that was all he could do and it was better than sitting doing nothing at all. And it was definitely better than the actions past Kings had taken when their wives were in labour; he was at least taking an active role in being a supportive presence for the woman he loved, taking her hand and helping her through the contractions in contrast to his father who had played poker and drunk himself into inebriation when Sven had been born.

When the midwife informed Carina that there were only two pushes to go, Sven did find himself injected with a sudden burst of energy. He was hardly as exhausted as Carina was, but he was still tired: he had been in that room for hours and hours on end, the stress and anxiety inevitably eating away at his energy. Dark rings had settled underneath tired eyes and his pale complexion had grown paler as his exhaustion hit, but knowing that there were only two more pushes to go until he set eyes on their child motivated him like nothing else possibly could.

He clutched her hand tightly in response, pressing in closely and urging her to just use every ounce of the strength she had left into pushing. His eyes flickered between her face and to the midwives at the opposite end of the bed, watching them carefully as they encouraged Carina to push and prepared for the baby's eventual expulsion, the King preparing himself for the sound of his child's first intake of breath and subsequent cry.

Though nothing truly could have prepared himself for it. Nine months of waiting for this moment and expecting the happiness that would hit him couldn't have lived up to the reality of it. He knew he would be elated to hear his child's first cry but the sound that filled the room was easily the sweetest sound he had ever heard, and it rendered him silent as he tried to effectively comprehend the fact that all those dreams he had held for fatherhood had just come true.

He was a father; Carina the mother of his child. He always knew he would be delighted to be a father but to become one under such circumstances, bringing a child into the world with a woman he loved so deeply... he couldn't have foreseen this future for himself a year ago, never would have thought it possible.

And yet here he was.

He remained silent (not out of choice; he genuinely couldn't find the words to summarise such a momentous occasion) as the bundle was placed comfortably and safely into their mother's arms-- into his mother's arms. Sven took in the news that he had a son but it only settled in when his eyes rested on the newborn's features, everything hitting him altogether again and causing his own tears to drop onto his cheeks, words breaking with emotion when he did find his voice again.

"Our son," he repeated with a grin, the expression widening as he pressed in as close as he possibly could. His eyes only ventured away from staring at his son in order to focus on Carina, a hand reaching to cup her cheek as his lips pressed against her own, his forehead remaining rested against hers for a few seconds once the kiss broke.

"I-- I love you, you-- you're amazing, Carina. I... couldn't ask for a-- a better mother for our child-- our son," he corrected with a disbelieving chuckle, inevitably glancing back down at the bundle in her arms. "...He's... He's perfect."
 

Viverescribere

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Carina's eyes remained closed after the kiss she shared with her husband, exhausted completely and utterly as she laid there with the slumbering babe in her arms. She just wanted to stay in that moment forever, oblivious to the midwife and her assistant as they began to clean things up. Carina knew she too would undoubtedly have to go for a bath soon, to freshen up and remove the drying layer of sweat from her skin, but for now that didn't bother her. Too lost as she was in the moment shared between a couple and their newborn child.

"I... couldn't have done it without you." She whispered, voice barely above a murmur both due to tiredness and also from her lack of want to disturb their son. "I mean it... if-- if you hadn't been here, I don't know what I would have done. I would have crumbled." She freed a hand to reach out for his, clasping it firmly as she finally opened her eyes again, "I... I love you too."

It would be the first time she uttered the words out loud. Having chosen to keep the declaration to herself, despite know how well received it would have been. But the guilt of knowing what plan she had hatched and then cancelled behind his back kept her from saying it to his face before. While he was awake too, since she often had no problem in uttering the words while facing him as he slept.

She turned her attention down to the bundle, still slightly in disbelief at the fact that this was the end result. This perfect little human was their son.

Carina hesitated before turning her gaze back to Sven again, "Here... hold him. I doubt I'll ever pass him to you again because I will be wanting to keep him to myself so... So take the offer now before I change my mind." She teased, smiling faintly as she began to readjust herself and their child in preparation of passing him over to his father.
 

potassiumboron

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"You're really making it your mission to get me to sob my heart out right now, aren't you? Birthing our son, confessing your love for me... god, I'm going to be a wreck if you continue, Carina," he teased under his breath, though the playfulness didn't distract from the emotion flooding his expression at the words he had longed to hear from her since he had first realised the depth of his feelings for her.

I love you too.

He had wanted to hear them countless times over the last month, hoped that when he would wake up in bed beside her that she would open her eyes, smile softly and admit that she held a love for him similar in intensity to the love he had been so vocal about harbouring for her. Such a declaration had ceased to pass her lips and even though he knew from her consistently affectionate motions towards him that she did love him, he wanted to hear it with his own ears; bear witness to a vocal admission of love.

And finally, he was receiving that - undoubtedly at the best possible time. He had hated waiting for it, fearing he might never get to experience the words towards him, but all that waiting was worth it because there really was no better place to hear her confession than now: when they were a family.

He didn't hesitate to gently take his son in his arms once the invitation to do so was offered, a shaky breath leaving his lips once he had the small bundle held close to him. Words couldn't accurately describe the rush of love that washed over him as he stared down at his son's gentle, small features, trying to breathe as quietly as he could to avoid waking the boy up and disturbing his peace.

"He-- He really is beautiful, isn't he? Let's just hope he has my red hair - but he'll probably have your eyes, I think. He's got your nose too," he murmured absently as he continued to drink in the baby's features, finding each and every one absolutely perfect. "...What's our little Prince's name going to be, then? We don't have to decide immediately, I... I know I can't think straight when my mind's this caught up with love for him, so... we can wait a few days if you have nothing in mind, hon."
 

Viverescribere

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Her lips pulled up in an emotional smile of her own, hand reaching out to press against his cheek. Carina was grateful for the warmth that was already in her face, otherwise she surely would have been caught out by the blush that would have formed in response to his teasing. "I'm sorry it took me so long to say," she apologised softly, taking a moment to simply take in the view before her of her loving husband holding their newborn son, "It's been there to say for a while... now just... it felt right."

Carina knew she ought to have made the verbal confirmation a long time ago, but she had to be sure. While her affections were clear and obvious, saying the words out loud just cemented everything into place. If this was a true, masterful act of manipulation on Sven's part, then her words would have meant the end to the part he was playing as a dutiful, loving husband. But seeing how he was with her for the full seven or so hours for the labour and delivery of their child... she knew then, fully and completely and truthfully, that all her anxieties could be put to rest.

However, that also meant her guilt had grown tenfold, and it was something she wouldn't be able to live with as it weighed heavily on her chest. Carina came to the revelation, at the same time as uttering those four words as her declaration of love, that she had to tell Sven of what she had previously planned. He deserved to know, and she needed to tell him, so they could really look to the future with no more secrets.

But that could wait. For now she was exhausted, and the idea of ruining the moment with that news... it was unbearable.

So for now, Carina remained laid out on the bed, watching Sven with their son. Her hand fell from his cheek to rest on his arm, her free one raising to wipe away tears that had escaped onto her cheeks.

"His-- his name? I... I don't really know. I can't remember what we agreed on." She laughed quietly, trying to think back, "Like you said, we have plenty of time... we can have a think, can't we?" She tried to push herself up into a better position, wincing as she did so.

The midwife then approached, almost cautiously, "Your Majesty... we've prepared a bath for you, should you wish to clean up. We will change the bedsheets while you're in there, then you can rest. But I recommend you attempting to feed baby after bathing. The quicker he gets used to that, the better it will be for you."

Carina glanced from the woman to Sven and the child, hesitating as she didn't want to leave the scene. But the idea of a clean nightgown and bedsheets was tempting. Reluctantly she nodded, using the midwife's offered support to climb out of bed. Her body ached, but it was bearable, unlike what she had experienced moments ago. She partially bent over to meet Sven's lips, pressing hers to his for a moment before checking on their son.

"Have a little think... I won't be long." She murmured, pulling back finally. She then followed the midwife to the bathroom, taking the help she could to disrobe and get into the bath.
 

potassiumboron

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It didn't necessarily matter that it had taken her so long to confess her love for him. He might have longed to hear those words weeks prior to now, but the fact she had eventually admitted the depth of her feelings for him was all that mattered, and all he could care about. Everything now felt right with the world and he was hardly going to hold onto something so inconsequential as the time it had taken for her to admit her love for him.

She had admitted it now, and so he could accept that their marriage was built on that love for one another and proceed forward in enjoying the full benefits of it - and raise their son in a loving, trusting environment that he couldn't admit to having when he was born. He hadn't experienced any moments of parental love from the former rulers of Ignis, being dragged up rather than gently raised.

With his son, he had a chance to give him all he never had; raise him in a way that he had been a stranger to. His son was going to grow up knowing without a doubt that his parents both cherished him and wanted nothing but the best for him; accept him for who he was and never try to change or alter him into a preferred vision, namely because that vision didn't exist. There was no end goal in terms of what his son should be: as long as he was happy and healthy, Sven would be his biggest supporter.

Cradling the bundle protectively in his arms, he averted his gaze to carefully observe Carina ease herself from the bed. He had gushed about her strength for hours at this point but he was hit by just how strong she was when she stood up from the bed. However pained she undoubtedly was, the fact she had just given birth and was already up on her feet and moving about made him smile, both in incredulity at the strength and in pride of it.

"Go and have yourself a nice bath; you deserve it. I'll be fine with him; he'll no doubt begin crying in a little while but he's nice and quiet for now, so go and have a soak, love," he smiled after the affectionate kiss, nodding in encouragement as he trusted the midwives to help her without his assistance and so turned his loving gaze back down to the son in his arms, still entirely devoted to staring at the little thing's perfect features in mild disbelief that he actually had him in his arms after so much time dreaming of it.
 

Viverescribere

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Carina thought she would be quick in the bath, since she didn't want to be a second longer away from Sven and their son. But as soon as she sank into the warm water, her muscles instantly relaxed and her body melted into a stage of relaxation where it just didn't wish to come out of. She knew she had time to simply enjoy this moment of recovery, as it wasn't as if they had to make any royal announcement. It wouldn't have surprised her if the midwife or her assistant had passed on the news to be distributed throughout the rest of the castle and then, eventually, to the Ignisian villages.

Meanwhile the midwife and her assistant continue to busy themselves with changing the bedsheets and a maid fetched a new nightgown from Carina's old room. A tray of small bites had also been brought into the room and left on the table flanked by dove-grey armchairs for the couple to graze upon. It wouldn't be until she exited the bathroom that Carina would realise just how lax she was in her attention to her needs during the labour. Her stomach growled at the sight of the sliced meats and cheeses, the fluffy bread that was also pre-cut and the soft butter sat in an individual pot alongside chutneys and jams.

However, even still, her needs had to wait, as she was reminded once more important it was for her son to get his first feed. Carina knew that the tray would be brought closer eventually.

Slipping under the freshly changed sheets, Carina glanced across to Sven and their son as the pillows were arranged behind her. A smile took up her expression once more, eyes flickering over them both as she simply took in the scene. She didn't want to disrupt the moment Sven was having with their child, but she knew he could have him back as soon as feeding was done.

"My love... I need him back for a few minutes," she gently prodded him, hand reaching out to run fingers through his fiery locks, "You can have him back immediately after he's fed properly, I promise. He won't be going anywhere else. And you need to eat regardless... get some food while he is."
 

potassiumboron

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As much as he wanted to spend the first precious moments of their son's birth to life with Carina at his side, as it was meant to be, Sven had become so engrossed with observing his son as he slept, so utterly fascinated by the fact he had him present in his arms, that Carina's absence had passed by within what felt like a blink of an eye. One moment she had gone, and before he really had time to acknowledge her absence, she had reappeared back in the room - and if it wasn't for the warmth radiating from her after soaking in the hot water, he wouldn't have believed that she had actually bathed yet because it didn't feel like enough time had passed for her to do so.

He blinked in surprised once she prodded him and made him aware of her presence, eyes straying to the display of food nearby that he had also remained blissfully unaware of, so entranced as he was by the baby in his arms.

"I, uh... hm? Oh, right, yes-- of course, he needs a feed," he quietly responded as he forced himself out of the daze he had been caught up in, not hesitating to gently place the boy into his mother's arms as carefully as he could. As much as he wanted to keep him cuddled up close to him, he had no qualms in handing him across to Carina, taking as much joy as seeing their son in her arms as he did having him in his own.

"You take some time to cuddle with him, Carina; let him stay rested up close to you after his feed. I've had plenty of time to get some cuddles in," he continued as his eyes drifted back to the spread nearby and, once feeling his own stomach growl hungrily at the sight of the goods, he forced himself up from the chair and headed across to collect a plate for himself - and a few items for Carina, not necessarily wanting her to move so much after just given birth.

He had always been happy to rush around her but never before had he been so determined to do so.

"You know he's going to have my colour hair, don't you?" He suddenly began with a quiet grin over his shoulder in evident amusement. "Not that it remotely matters, of course. I want him to be the perfect mix of us both."
 

Viverescribere

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Once the midwife was happy with how the baby was feeding, she and the assistant finally left the couple alone with the promise to return the following morning to check on mother and child. It had been difficult at first, attempting to get the child to latch on and begin suckling, and there was a brief sharpness of unusual pain which eventually subsided. However, once they got the hang of it, it was all fine.

Soon Carina was gently patting the baby's back, eyes raising to where Sven stood to respond to his earlier comment. She playfully rolled her eyes, a small grin on her features, "You and your bloody hair, Sven Ignisi." She drawled, eyebrow quirking in amusement, "Although I may have to concede defeat. I noticed that your family line passes down the red hair gene." She confessed, eyes dropping back down to their child.

The grin turned into a fond smile as she rearranged herself and the baby, leaning back into the pillows and moving the newborn so he lay out on her chest with his face turned to the side. It was a much closer position for mother and child to rest in, and Carina was certain that it would help their bond grow. It caught her slightly off-guard, since she realised that this was a moment she, at one point, thought she would never get to experience. Back when they were fighting and hating one another, Carina had anticipated her son or daughter being removed from her the moment they were born. She hadn't even been sure if she would even be allowed the one to feed them, or if Sven would have sought out a wet nurse.

But things had changed, so much for the better.

The warmth of the tiny body was reassuring and comforting, as much as the light weight it provided against her chest. It definitely made things feel more real, as Carina was still in disbelief that after seven, long hours... she was finally done, and had brought their son into the world.

"Come sit here with me. Better yet, come lay with us. And bring the food with you." She reached a free hand toward him, the other resting on their son's back to keep him secure to her, "I want us all together, properly, while it's still the calm before the storm." She smiled, lowering her outstretched hand to rest on her stomach below the baby's bundled up feet, "Before all the well wishers and nosy so-and-sos come sticking their noses through the door to get a glimpse of their heir."
 

potassiumboron

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"Hey, whatever colour hair he has I'm going to love the kid... I just know for a fact that that particular gene is a difficult one to overcome. My ancestors had the same red hair I proudly possess, hon; our kids aren't going to buck that trend," he replied with unsubtle amusement, the pride already fixed on his face at the fiery hair he knew their son would end up exhibiting as he grew being unashamedly on display. He meant what he said when he purported to love their son just the same regardless of his hair colour considering just how unimportant it really was.

But it was also something he could playfully tease his wife with. In the entirety of their marriage, what had been noticeably missing from it was fun. Trust, honesty, genuineness and love were naturally missing too, but the more lighter aspects of a marriage like the playful teasing that went on between loving couples had also been overlooked - and he considered it just as important was the other qualities they had worked on for the last couple of months.

If he had a chance to lightly play around with her, tease her about something as inconsequential as their son's hair colour, he was going to do just that.

"He's going to be my little twin, aren't you? Yes you are," he cooed as his tone softened considerably when turning his attention to the baby, venturing across to take his seat up onto the bed. The plates of various titbits were placed at his side as he leaned across a little to get a better sight of the baby resting peacefully on his mother's chest, that image alone making Sven's throat constrict once more with emotion.

"...I can see he's here, I've held him in my arms, but it still... hasn't actually set in that we're... parents, Carina. You're a mother, I'm a... father," he chuckled as he eased back to pick at a few olives on his plate, only acknowledging just how hungry he must have been over the last few hours when the simple taste of the olive made him hum in appreciation "Here, eat something; you need the energy. Let's just... enjoy this before, like you said, people come by to see him. It's nice to just... take the moment in as a family before the inevitable interruptions."
 

Viverescribere

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"Wouldn't it just be hilarious if he inherited your fiery hair, but my affinity for ice? What a contradiction of appearances." Carina teased back, "He will also have double the stubbornness, since both his parents hold such a trait, who knows if he'll be stubborn enough to refuse to have red hair." She looked away from Sven to peer down at the child, fingers gently soothing over his back as he laid peacefully against her chest and sternum. Her lips curled into another warm smile, head tilting slightly to the side.

Thinking about it respectively, things had happened so quickly. While it felt like an age that they hated each other and detested one another and wanted each other dead, it had really only been a year or so. Of course that year had dragged, and unimaginable things had been said and done and planned... but in the grand scheme of things, that hatred had not been so far from love.

It was odd to thank that a year ago that day, they had been undoubtedly ripping each other's throats out. It may have even been not long after their first attempts of conceiving, where Carina had gone into his bedroom to make his life miserable by bringing him pleasure. A complete contradiction, but something she had willingly done just to have one up on him in that game they were playing with one another.

But now they were no longer working against one another, but with. Not only that, but they loved each other. It was something Carina wouldn't have ever expected. Perhaps it was the pregnancy that helped bring them together, that Sven's love for the child transferred onto her without him really realising it. Perhaps his show of vulnerability was what helped Carina. But whatever it was, she wasn't about to question it.

"Here," she murmured once he was settled on the bed. She pushed herself up, carefully holding their son to her chest, and gingerly moved across the bed. She gently nudged at his legs so they spread, and settled herself between them. From there, she laid down once more against his chest, so it pressed against her back. Their son remained nestled on her sternum, undisturbed and snoozing away.

The warmth that radiated from him, as pure usual, caused her to sigh softly, eyes fluttering closed briefly. "Piece of toast," she repeated the words from their first affection interaction with a small grin. The body heat from him allowed her muscles to relax further, soothing her body which still so understandably ached in places. "Now I can also reach the food better, and you can have your son close without me having to relinquish my time of cuddles."
 

potassiumboron

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He had obviously considered the possibility that his son wouldn't possess the fiery powers that all heirs of the Ignisi throne had held. This was the first time where a royal from Eira had married into and provided an heir for their bloodline, after all: it was simple facts that suggested there was a possibility that the future King of Ignis would be the first one to have ice running through his veins rather than the fire that all his ancestors in Ignis had been able to wield.

But the thought didn't cause any annoyance or discomfort to settle with Sven. He liked the idea of being able to train his son to control the fire that they might come to learn existed within him; spending hours nurturing his son and teaching him through love and positive reinforcement to control such a temperamental element; one that Sven had been forced to conquer or be on the receiving end of a brutal punishment from his tutors. He therefore would treasure the chance to teach his son in a way he never got to experience... but if he inherited his mother's abilities, Sven was still going to be present; still watching on proudly as Carina took the reins and helped their son to understand the power he was capable of.

It might have been all that mattered to him months ago, the idea of his child born without his abilities would have enraged him, but now? Now he was just happy to see his son in the world, healthy and safe - what powers he would one day start to develop and express really were the last thing he could care about. Fire or ice; he would love the boy all the same and be proud of him regardless.

"See, I admit that your ability perhaps has its benefits over my own; it's clinical and sharp, without the messiness that fire tends to create. But I'm your own personal heater, Carina; you can't deny that harbouring a fire within me isn't of extreme benefit to you in moments like this. I'm just glad to be of service," he laughed as he carefully adjusted his arm in order to allow her to rest back closely against his chest, the limb resting to his side to cradle her in close and allow his hand to gently brush across their son's soft forehead. As emotional as the first cry had made him, he was incredibly thankful for the current quiet, able to absorb such a precious family moment without distraction and without the piercing cries of a baby he knew he would have to get used to hearing now and for the foreseeable months ahead of them.

"...You know people will come by and visit us soon, the allies we built up together who believe in our vision for Ignis and whatnot, I... think Natalia will be one of them," he admitted as he reached across for his glass of wine, needing a sip of it when bringing up a potentially contentious issue - but honesty was an important aspect of their relationship in his eyes. He wasn't going to hide the fact that Natalia could retrieve her role as an adviser, that it was something he had contemplated after caving in and starting to read the dozens of letters she had sent him -and Carina- over the months since her dismissal.

"I won't allow her anywhere near you if you aren't interest, of course not, but... people change. I'm evidence of that. Her letters to you and I-- I believe that her apologies are sincere; I believe that she made a mistake, got caught in a web of lies and feels awful for it now. But I know her history of lies and cruelty towards you might make you uneasy; it's why I'm mentioning it now. I can have a servant refuse her entrance and inform her not to contact us if you want her out of our lives permanently, love. I... wasn't going to hide this from you; you know how much I value honesty so... here's some honesty for you. I... really am willing to back your decision without question, so... what do you think?"
 

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His talk of honesty and openness and past mistakes made Carina's smile slip slowly from her face; not that he would have seen, since she was facing forward and her face pointing downwards as she continued to watch their son. It would also be a lie to say that her body didn't fill with a sense of dread at the prospect of Natalia walking back into their lives. While Carina hadn't exactly been any better to the other woman, Natalia had been a bitch. And Carina was surprised he was even contemplating forgiveness after the monstrosity of a lie she had told him, faking her pregnancy and deceiving him, attempting to lay the blame on her and putting her through one of the most stressful and humiliating moments of her life.

Yet she couldn't focus on that when his words kept coming back to haunt her. He had told her about the correspondence with Natalia, so clearly stated his desire to have an open channel of honesty between them...

"Sven I... I need to tell you something..." She spoke quietly, leaning away from him. Carina knew he would never shove her off him, not with their son resting so carefully on her chest. But she also wasn't about to trap him in that position, when what she told him next could cause him to need space from her.

Carina swallowed hard, shifting around in the bed again so she sat opposite him. A leg dangled off the side of the bed, the other tucked underneath her as her hands gently held their child to her chest, supporting his head. She kept her gaze averted as she gathered the courage and conviction to tell him what she needed to. What she should have told him months ago. What she almost told him back in her room when he offered to buy her fudge, but was unable to when he looked so happy and content with their position.

"I'm telling you this because-- because you said it yourself, you value honesty. I-- I-- this has been eating away at me and I tried to put it off because it didn't matter any more and I obviously wasn't going to follow through with it now--" She cut herself off as she found herself beginning to babble on.

Carina wet her lips, forcing her gaze up and up and up until they met his, "I-- A few months ago, actually back right after... Emmett... I'd-- I'd started a plan to-- to kill you." The last three words were small, uncomfortable, foreign on her tongue which had only moments ago declared her love for him. "I-- I promise I have no intention of doing so now. Obviously, painfully so, that is the furthest thing from what I want right now."

Her gaze remained on his for a moment longer, before the shame of her previous actions got too much, before the guilt became too strong. She shook her head, careful not to jostle the baby too much. "I just-- I was angry, I wanted revenge. And we can't say we were on the best of terms, nor can you deny that you didn't have any plans to kill me once everything was done." She pointed out hastily, knowing it probably wasn't the best thing to do but felt that it helped make her case. It wasn't as if he hadn't thought about killing her, after all.

"I-- I needed to tell you this now, for us to stay honest with one another. And-- and just so you know I would never, ever want such a thing now. I-- I love you. I really, truly do. I-- I can't fake what I feel, I'm too icy-cold for that."
 

potassiumboron

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Bringing up Natalia when they were both experiencing what was undoubtedly the happiest moment of their lives might not have been the best time to drop such information, but Sven felt inclined to bring it up before the woman made her appearance. He hadn't corresponded with her behind the other's back, having ignored each and every single one of his former adviser's letters until extremely recently when he caved in and read them all; a fact he would have mentioned to his wife if not for the contractions and the eventual beginning of labour that distracted him from doing so.

He was happy to cut the woman out of his life completely after the way she had acted to Carina but he had done far worse than Natalia had and been forgiven for it; shown that the way he had acted hadn't been the person he knew he could become. He had only become that person with forgiveness and trust, and he felt inclined to offer Natalia that chance too. If she repeated her cruel behaviour then she would be forced out - but it was unfair not to give her that chance because he wanted to understand the reasons behind her lies and move on from them; give her that chance that had been offered to him. Carina's forgiveness of him had led to this moment, cuddled up in bed with their newborn son resting peacefully.

It wouldn't be fair not to show Natalia a little forgiveness in return.

Carina's silence, however, made him think that she was immediately against such an idea and angered by it, his brow furrowing in annoyance at himself for having possibly soured the joyous mood. He didn't understand why else she would fall so silent until she began to speak again, the ominousness of her initial statement causing him to fall silent himself, staring in bewilderment as she adjusted her body away from him. He knew instinctively that this no longer had anything to do with Natalia because if it was, the worry and concern attached to his wife's expression wouldn't be present, and so, not knowing what had troubled her so much made him incredibly anxious as if aware that he wasn't going to like what words were about to leave her lips.

And as he predicted, he didn't.

Any anger that he knew he ought to feel, and was justified in feeling, failed to really register. Instead, a heavy weight immediately fell onto his chest; feelings he could only really acknowledge as hurt. Carina was entitled to have been furious with him and he couldn't necessarily blame her for her plans, but she had only said she started them those few months ago.

There was no mention as to when those plans had actually come to an end.

"...How-- How long? How long did you keep these plans up?" He eventually replied as he forced back the lump in his throat, tightening his jaw to remain as neutral in his expression as he could despite the faint glistening in his eyes that belied that attempt at calmness. "Did you still harbour them when I-- I was drunk and spilling my guts out to you? When we had our first-- real intimate moment together beside the fireplace; when I indicated that I loved you? Did you still plan on k-killing me then? How long, Carina?"
 

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"I-- I--" Carina had turned into a stuttering mess, finding it difficult to find the words to explain to him the timeline regarding her decision when she could so clearly see the hurt in his eyes. Witnessing the tears, which glistened unshed, was difficult and she wanted so badly to convince him in each and every way that those thoughts were not the ones she had anymore.

Hurriedly, she stood to move around the bed, laying their son down in the cot that had been brought in while she had been bathing. Soon, Carina was hastily returning to his side. Moving quickly caused aches and pains to rise back up again, but she fought against allowing them to show. She didn't want him thinking she was looking for sympathy during this moment of revelation. Carina sat back on the bed, hands beginning to reach out with the intent to hold both of his in hers, but soon realised that was probably the last thing he wanted, so allowed them to fall short in the space between them.

"I-- I had started having my doubts the first night we got along," she whispered in confession, "And-- and then we know what happened next and... and what you had me do... it flared everything back up, and I thought... I wondered why I doubted my plans but..." She swallowed thickly, unable to help the guilt that racked her despite one part of her screaming she had no need to be.

He had done worse, so much worse to her than simply plan to kill her. He had murdered her brother in front of her. Allowed the people to hate her so much they were willing to tip over a carriage to get to her. Accused her of coldly faking a pregnancy. Forcing her to strip bare to prove her bump was real. Told her again and again, hinting to it and outright admitting that he wouldn't allow her anywhere near their children and that he would kill her once he was done with her.

Yet now, all because of one plan that she hadn't even followed through with, she was about to lose the happiness that they had worked so hard to achieve.

"--But-- the plan-- I knew the night you were drunk that I couldn't. That I wouldn't. I-- I took your words for what they were, the truth. I knew I couldn't follow through with what I had planned. It was then that I knew you weren't... you weren't the king I had lived with for the past year or so."

Her gaze lingered on him, imploring him to believe her. Her hands retracted, instead tangling into the bedsheet in front of her in her anxious state.

"That-- that moment by the fireplace-- please, Sven... that moment by the fireplace... that's when... that's when I knew I was falling for you too. I promise you. I promise I held nothing but amicability and affection for you. I-- I had no plans, not even a thought, of killing you then. That moment was what it was... a moment of vulnerable intimacy. Please... I-- I do. I do love you. After everything, I really do. You-- you have to believe me."
 

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"There's... there's a noticeable difference between threatening to hurt someone and making the effort to plot a detailed plan to do so, Carina. I threatened you constantly, I'm not purporting to be an angel, but I never made concrete plans to kill you, I... I merely let the threat of it dangle over you to provoke fear. You-- went ahead a-and-- plotted my death, I... I know I've done a lot worse but I won't pretend this doesn't fucking h-hurt, Carina," he grimaced, his fists clenched at his sides as he tried to hold himself together, detesting the fact his voice had wavered midway through his sentences and allowed for a light stammer to take over; one he had held since childhood but had worked hard to eradicate.

Given its occasional reoccurrence during Sven's emotional moments like this one, he hadn't worked hard enough to make it a feature firmly of the past and its sudden arrival now made him want to scream in annoyance. He didn't want to appear vulnerable or a figure deserving of sympathy - and he imagined the stuttering didn't necessarily help with that aim.

He knew he wasn't entitled to huge amounts of sympathy considering the actions he had physically undertaken and the torture he had forced Carina to endure. She had only planned his death rather than acted upon it; hell, there wasn't even an attempt as far as he was aware, but that didn't mean he could just waive aside the legitimate hurt he felt growing inside him when he recalled the moment he had been drunk, apologising profusely for his actions and bearing his soul to her while she still held desires to see him... dead.

"...I think what hurts more is the fact you kept this from me for... all this time. We put to bed our anger towards one another a while ago; we promised to move on with honesty and trust. I have-- no secrets, I've told you all there is to know and admitted my innermost fucking feelings to you, and you've held back this all this time? It's not even the death plot; it's the lack of honesty, Carina. That's not-- that i-isn't h-how we-- promised to move forward together," the King continued as he averted his gaze to the side, determined to look anywhere else other than at the woman in the knowledge that the tears glossing his eyes would tip over onto his cheeks if he saw her and her desperate, pleading expression.

He took a few moments to collect himself, only reaching for the wine at his side when he was sure his hand wouldn't visibly shake as he did so.

"Is that it now? There aren't any more skeletons in your closet; no more secrets?" He questioned quietly, finally glancing back across to her once his composure had somewhat returned to him. "Because if so, if that's all you have left to reveal to me, then... then we're okay; I can get past this. I'm... not exactly h-happy with you, I don't like the lack of honesty, but I... can forgive it; I can move on with you and-- and our son. We're alright, Carina. Just-- be honest with me from now on."
 

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"It's not like I planned this when I knew you loved me. It's not like I planned this when I started growing feelings for you." Carina implored to him, exasperated in her attempts to convince him she truly meant no harm now. Those plans, those ideas, they were the last thing in her mind. She didn't hate herself for them, understanding that they came from a place of hatred and hurt and pain. She had moved on from that part of her life now, and she was happy. Happy with Sven.

"And-- and how was I supposed to know they were just threats, Sven? You-- we know what you did. What I went through. Did you really think I would have believed for a moment that you words were just threats? Y-you have no idea what it was like in my position back then, to think that it was either kill or be killed." She knew she ought to stop talking; it was like word vomit and she couldn't stop what was being said as her hands began to tremble in her growing fear and anxiety of losing him after being honest with him. Just as he had always wanted them to be.

Carina pushed herself to her feet and took a few steps away from where she was once sat, a hand reaching out to hold the post of the bed at the foot of it. She slowly began to lean into the post, soon the side of her head and her temple resting against it. Her eyes squeezed shut, obviously regretting her decision to open her mouth and come clean to her husband. But she knew she had to, she knew it was the right thing to do. Otherwise how could they begin to even think about moving forward. She couldn't keep this buried forever.

"It's not as though I lied to you," she eventually murmured, still keeping her back to him and allowing her body weight to remain against the post of the bed, "I-- I just didn't divulge this. I couldn't-- bring myself to do son. I knew it would ruin everything. I knew I didn't want that anymore, so I didn't think it mattered." She sniffed furiously, wiping abruptly at her nose, back still to him, "But I... I just couldn't live with that guilt. I knew you had to know." She exhaled heavily, pressing her temple hard against the wooden post.

"We-- we have moved on. This is why I'm telling you this, finally. I-- didn't want to tell you before because I was scared of this exact reaction. I was scared of losing you." Carina hesitantly turned to face him again. But her eyes didn't meet his. She folded her arms protectively across her chest, hear bowed slightly and eyes darting from her feet to Sven's face. It would linger on him before guiltily darting back down.

Reluctantly, Carina nodded, not even considering Thorin or Lauren now as potential variables after the maid's lies about running away. Besides, she had given him a second chance, why couldn't she have one?

"That's it-- that's all there is. I just... I just want us to move on, for us to be a family. That's all I want. I keep telling you I love you, Sven, and that's the truth. I do, more than anything. I just want us to be together an we can do that. I-- I love you. I really do. I-- I'd never think about... that ever again, I swear it. I've... I've been the happiest with you in these last few weeks than I have been in months, even maybe years. Why would I want to give that up? I love you."
 

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That's all there is.

Sven wasn't aware that further details regarding the plot to end his life were still being held from him. Regardless of how irrelevant Carina believed such details to be, the King felt he had a right to all the information she had on hand to ensure that they were completely honest with one another when it came to matters like this that demanded the truth. Why wouldn't he want to know that Lauren, someone he had trusted completely all these months, actually despised him and had duplicitously plotted for his demise?

Yet, he couldn't barrage her with demands for a truth he had no inkling of; he assumed that when she told him that that was all there was, that she was telling the truth - after the emotional display and his obvious hurt, he couldn't assume that she would continue to keep quiet on the specificities of the plan and those involved.

He genuinely could never assume she would continue to keep him in the dark after his pleas for honesty, and so, when she promised him that she had confessed all of her secrets to him, he nodded in acknowledgement and reached across to take her hand, hoping a little physical support would reassure her if his words failed to.

"Hey, it's-- it's okay, Carina; don't stress yourself out, alright? I... forgive you, course I do. I was an asshole back then, right? I'm... surprised you didn't go ahead and finish me off in my sleep, actually; I might not have possessed that sort of patience and strength were I in your position," he grinned in the effort to bring some levity to the situation and ease the emotional tension. He was upset by her revelations but how could he bear a grudge and hold it all against her when he had hardly been an angel himself?

In fact, he had done much worse than merely plan a murder; he had committed one involving Emmett. Nothing she had done could compare to that horrible mistake so holding a grudge when he really had no right to do so was childish and the behaviour of the man he had been in the past before his efforts to improve himself.

He wasn't about to let all that self progress -and his love with Carina- go down the drain.

"I mean, you gave me a second chance, didn't you? I'm not going to prevent you having one too, particularly when you're mistake was much less severe than my own. So we're okay, Carina. I love you, I love our little family; I love us. Nothing's coming in the way of that, I promise you," he continued as he shifted up to close the distance between them and moved both hands to cup her cheeks, tilting her chin up so her eyes would meet his own.

"...We'll move on from this, it won't be too difficult I imagine. Not when I love you as much as I do; I can't stay mad at such a cute face~"
 

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His forgiveness, so soft was his tone in which he provided it, served to make Carina's shoulders sag with relief. However, she still couldn't bear to bring herself to look up at him. Because she hadn't told him everything he deserved to know; but how could she, when she knew it would cause the end of her friend's life? Besides, Lauren had told her that she was planning to run.

Carina had doubted that, when Lauren first told her, mainly because of her reaction to when Carina asked her if it would be better for them to run. But when she mentioned Thorin and that they both had seemed to find love with one another... Carina had naively believed that. She had just wanted the best for the maid, as a friend, despite their differences. And she would never have thought, for one second, that Lauren would have planned her demise too.

She exhaled heavily, raising a hand to her cheek to wipe it after feeling a tear drip down. As physically drained as she was before, it was made even worse by the revelation and the emotional exhaustion it had caused.

Never did she had to worry before about losing him, until that moment. And it was in that moment that Carina realised that she never wanted to be in that predicament again. She would do whatever it took to protect the fragile love and relationship they now had. But... she also had to protect Lauren, and offer the maid the same second chance at life and happiness that she had had.

A hand raised to bring her fingers to her lips, soon nibbling against a nail as she remained silent. She didn't dare answer, as if any words she spoke would cause him to realise he had accepted her previous mistakes and would revoke his words.

However, when his hands came to rest on her cheek, palms pressing against the slightly damp tear track on her one cheek, Carina was forced to look up at him. Her gaze flickered over his face, studying it deeply to see if he was really speaking the truth. A small, watery hiccup of a chuckle escaped her at his words, eyes darting down before raising back to his.

"Y-you-- Promise? Because I-- I really have. I really have put a stop to it. I don't want that anymore, I-I really don't. I love you. I love our son. I love our family. I want nothing more than-- than for us-- for us to be this family. I don't-- I don't want to lose you. Ever."
 

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Sven hadn't once accused her of continuing to harbour the plans, having only questioned her as to when those plans had come to an end because he instinctively knew that she wasn't preparing to do him harm - at least now now after all the progress they had made. He believed without any doubt that she loved him; that she meant every word of those proclamations so considering that she would still plan on killing him directly contradicted that protestation of love.

And he hadn't even needed to contemplate it because he knew she loved him and, subsequently, knew no such murderous intentions continued. If she said they had ended a while ago and she no longer harboured that malevolent desire, then he also believed those words too.

But if he did need any evidence to convince him her words were true, the emotional display would undeniably be all he needed. Nobody could feign that level of anxiety and fear over possibly losing him, nor could that passionate expression of her love for him be faked. Sven might not exercise the talent anymore but he was a natural manipulator capable of tricking most people he had come into contact with in his dark past, but even he doubted that he could pull off an outpouring of desperation and fear like Carina was currently displaying.

And if he couldn't, then Carina couldn't either, leaving the only answer being that these were her true emotions. He knew that already, never for once doubted that she was again being duplicitous with him, but it was just further proof should he ever need it.

"Hey, hey, no more tears; we're okay, I promise," he emphasised in the effort to reassure her of his own words being true, gently wiping a stray tear from her cheek with his thumb. The sight of her in such distress was horrible and he hated the fact she had held onto the knowledge of her plans for so long, having to let those feelings of anxiety grow worse and worse as more time went by.

He didn't like that she kept the news from him when honesty was so important, but he understood that the fear might have impacted her decision to open up. He couldn't exactly judge her for her decision to spare him of it and continue with their blossoming relationship together without anything disrupting it.

"...Come on, just-- eat up and relax; you need it, Carina. I promise you, we're fine. I don't think you're going to kill me - but maybe that'll change when I inevitably start doing your head in when our son's waking us up in the nights for a feed and we're both running on two hours sleep," he continued with another grin, hoping the levity introduced into the conversation through another playful comment would help to ease her fears.