Playing with Fire

Viverescribere

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"Oh I'm not asking any questions. I'm not here to have a silly little chat, Natalia." Carina mused, eyebrow raised in what could only be described as clear amusement. "I have also not said I've forgiven you for what has happened in the past, for what you did to me or for what you put Sven through. He may be able to forgive you more easily, but you both have a friendship in which I won't get in the way of. However, you and I... well, I think it's easy to say that I find it difficult that we will ever become friends."

Her words were cutting, but Carina didn't care. She also believed that Natalia would be prepared for cold, harsh or even borderline cruel comments. However, Carina wouldn't go out of her way to be brutal or unkind. She was merely speaking the truth that was in her mind. Now that she could.

She leaned back in the seat, clearly a lot more relaxed that the adviser before her. Which she had a right to be, she wasn't in a precarious predicament like Natalia was. It was an odd change, since before Natalia had always been in the position of security and certainty. Carina had always been wondering when the final blow would come from Sven to end her life.

"This second chance is genuine, Natalia, of that I can personally assure you. As I said, I'm in a position now where I want to make and keep Sven happy. If having you here helps with that, then so be it. I'd like to think my resilience to... unpleasantness has grown rather strong, over the last year and a half that I have been here already."

Her gaze briefly flickered to the door, mind wandering as she wondered if Sven was nearby. Perhaps even listening to the conversation through the closed door. Or if he was with their son, enjoying some time together.

The young queen then drew her attention back to Natalia, straightening her spine that little bit more as she continued: "But let me make something quite plain, in terms that will not be easy to misunderstand," she murmured, that smile once more back on her lips, happy and jovial, "If you do anything to try and seduce Sven during your time here, if you do anything to try and take him back into your bed, I will happily be the one to rip this second chance away from you without the option for a third."

The smile was a contrast to the icy tone in which she spoke, and Carina stood, brushing down the skirts of her dress as she did so.

"And also, if you go anywhere near my son, without myself or Sven present... or if I find out you have harmed a single hair on his head... what I did to those men on the podium after the carriage attacks will be nothing compared to what I will do to you. Is that all understood?"
 

potassiumboron

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And there it was, the warning that Natalia had prepared herself for the most.

After all, she, like everyone else in the kingdom, had heard just how happy the ruling couple were together. She had seen evidence of that genuine closeness through the various changes that Ignis as a whole had undergone, knowing that Sven wouldn't have some masterplan behind those changes and thus, the reason for them must have been that genuine love he now harboured for the woman he once completely detested. It bewildered Natalia at first, hurt her even more to realise that he harboured those feelings for someone who wasn't her, but she had come to realise that holding onto her own feelings was just self-destructive.

She had to just let them go if she stood any chance of returning to the life she had worked so hard to achieve for herself. So of course Carina would seek to reinforce those boundaries, make sure that Natalia knew where she stood, it made complete sense. The threatening tone wasn't necessarily appreciative but Natalia didn't really have any foot to stand on, and she knew that too - hence her obedient silence and faint nod in acceptance of that boundary she had no desire to overstep.

Was it hard to abandon love for someone she had held feelings for since their early teens? Hardly - but it was what she had to do.

"...I assure you I have no desire to seduce him, Carina. So I understand, of course I do. It's purely professional - and platonic, because he's my friend above anything else. I'm aware that's all there is between us and I promise you that's all there ever will be: a friendship," she replied smoothly as she brought herself to her feet once sensing the conversation was now nearing its end, her eyes straying to the various files she still had left to organise.

"But I hope you know that I am is friend, Carina. We will share jokes, we will sit together in this office and talk over a glass of wine or two. Don't mistake those inevitable interactions for... my attempts at seduction because they won't exist. He's my friend, we'll be... doing things friends do. Don't-- please don't take that from me or from him. You may not like me but I am the only friend he has outside of you; don't deprive him of that should we return to that level of friendship once more."
 

Viverescribere

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A muscle in Carina's jaw jumped at the woman's imploring words, the only reaction to what she was hearing from the adviser. The young woman was already well aware that Natalia's return meant the return of another friend and perhaps soon another confidant for her husband. Which unnerved her slightly, as she now considered the possibility that Sven may discuss any disagreements or turmoil in their marriage with Natalia. She could go to him next and demand for that not to happen. However, again, the adviser was his only friend, who could he turn to if not her to speak to someone about what was going on if he wasn't happy? Of course there was her, but would he really talk to her about it if she was the problem?

"I'm not going to be ignorant and say that I will be able to... see that those sort of interactions are simply platonic," Carina finally confessed, lips pursing briefly as she clasped hands behind her back, "It will be difficult, especially in the first months of your... time back here. Especially with the baby now born and us having to spend some time apart... but I shall-- try my best."

Carina hesitated, exhaling carefully before continuing with some more difficult words, "Sven may have the both of us now, but he is still the only one that I love and that I trust. He is not just my husband now, but also a friend, and the only one I have in this place now. I'm sure you've come to recognise how difficult it is when you lose your only friend... this is what I'm trying to avoid. I don't want to lose him, as a friend or as someone I love and as someone who loves me in return."

She attempted to remain strong and wilful, but the last of her confession brought forward emotions quicker than she would have liked. Putting it down to the birth of her son the night before and the lack of sleep thereafter, Carina cleared her throat and stepped out from the desk.

"Now I will-- I will let you get back to work. I last left Sven with our son, so with any luck he will be dressed and ready to come down to start the day." She informed the other woman, moving towards the door. As she arrived there, she paused, turning back partially, "I know that you will but-- take care of him. Last night was a tiring one. He may need more coffee than usual."
 

potassiumboron

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The honesty of the words and the promise to try was surprisingly more emotional to Natalia than she would have liked. She preferred to keep her emotions at bay when she was at work, which was why most assumed she lacked emotions entirely - her work very rarely stopped so she had to keep that front up for most of her days at the castle. She let it down around Sven and always had, unable to maintain that neutrality around someone that had always provoked emotions from her whether they be romantic or otherwise.

So to feel hot tears sting her eyes at the realisation that she might just get her friend back after missing his friendship for so many weeks, with Carian's words only seeking to encourage that belief... it mildly irked her to let that vulnerability show but showing that humanity might not be the worst decision in the world either.

The effort she put into not crying didn't distract her from picking up on the Queen's words, curiosity pricking away at her at the fact Carina had plainly admitted to only having her husband as a friend in the castle. Such words perhaps shouldn't have confused her when Carina had been the outsider in the castle for so long, having only herself for company in a kingdom that otherwise despised her, but Natalia was observant without a fault. She quietly underwent her business whilst also keeping an eye on everything that went on around her, so she had inevitably observed the closeness that had existed between the Queen and her maid.

Natalia assumed that there existed a genuine friendship there. Sven might not have believed her various comments about that friendship, waiving off the idea that Carina genuinely liked Lauren, but Natalia had been adamant of it. She refused to believe she was wrong in that assertion, which left the fact that a falling out had occurred. She didn't want to fall into old habits and meddle in business that ultimately wasn't hers, not when this was her second and final chance, but it didn't stop the flame of curiosity from lighting up.

...She just decided not to follow through on that curiosity, not when Carina was going out of her way to offer her this second chance. Throwing it in her face by meddling in her business wasn't something she could do in return. Not anymore.

"Ah, right, yes-- the, uh... the baby. How-- How is Sven with him, if that's not too... intrusive?. I just-- I know he's always wanted a child, it's all he would ever talk about. I'm sure he's loving every moment, that's... I'm happy for him. Yes, that's-- it's wonderful, you should get back to him before he starts wondering where you are and whether this conversation went badly. I'll have a coffee sent up for him," the former advisor smiled as she turned to return to her duties, not really seeking an answer to her question when it only brought up another wave of emotion she didn't want to express nor even feel.

Seeing Sven be a father was always something she had wanted, and she had come to realise that she didn't even need to provide that for him for her to be incredibly happy for him. The fact she couldn't even see the baby for herself when she had always thought she would be one of the first to do so as his closest friend just confounded how badly she had messed up, and she didn't really need that reminder; not when it made her want to sink back into the depths of anger and disgust that had dominated her life for the last few weeks.

She had her job back and she had to focus on that; not the former behaviour that had led to the repercussions she was now forced to endure.

"...This was useful, Carina. I'm glad we're at least at some sort of understanding, now just... I really ought to get back to all of this organising or it'll never get done. Sven's left me with a lot to get through so I should really get to it, if that's alright?"
 

Viverescribere

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Carina studied the other woman for a moment, lingering at the doorway at the question regarding Sven and her son. It was clear that the adviser wanted nothing but Sven's happiness, as did Carina, at least that was something that they had in common. However, Carina wasn't entirely sure just what it was that Natalia was harbouring for Sven. The care that she had for Sven clearly was that of a close friend who had known him for years. Yet Carina truly couldn't make out if the woman still loved him as deeply as she once did, or ever did.

She had to wonder if Natalia once thought she would be the one to marry Sven and be in the position where she provided him his heirs. It was a fleeting thought, but one that crossed her mind nonetheless. It would be stupid for her not to reconsider it, since she had often taunted the woman with the fact that would never happen during the darker days of her life in Ignis.

However, Carina couldn't bring herself to feel too much guilt for Natalia, considering all that had happened. She hadn't asked to be put in the position she had been, and if things had turned out differently, perhaps that life could have happened for Natalia. But that wasn't what fate had decided for them. For any of them.

"As I said, Natalia, you may not see the baby alone. You are... welcome... to see him with Sven, however." Carina extended the offer, despite how much it pained her. She didn't wish for the woman to be anywhere near her child, and if she had her way, Natalia would be barred from the entire wing.

But this was for Sven's sake as much as Natalia's, as Carina was certain he would want to share in the excitement of his newborn child.

Nodding once to Natalia's eventual want to get back to work, Carina pushed down on the door handle to open it and slipped out of the office without another word.
 

potassiumboron

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Admittedly, all Sven wanted to do was head down to his office, linger just outside of it out of view and unashamedly eavesdrop on the conversation the two women were having. No matter what occurred, he was going to be on Carina's side and rise to her defence should she need him but that didn't mean he felt entirely comfortable subjecting Natalia to a potential onslaught; not when he reserved blame for her actions and couldn't despise her too much for them.

He was hurt and pained by the course she had taken but he was mature enough to know he might have driven her to feeling she had no other choice available to her, especially when all her proclamations of love over the years had just been batted aside; used against her to get her into bed. How could he really reserve that much hate for her when he knew, deep down, he had always been a bad person and an even worse friend to her?

Of course, he declined to actually go down to the office to eavesdrop, trusting that Carina would say what she needed to say without losing her composure - and even if she did, she had the right to voice how she felt in whatever manner she saw fit. Besides, even if he was desperate to know how the conversation was going and hoped beyond anything that the two managed to at least be civil, given their importance to him, he doubted it would go down well if Carina left the room and saw him dawdling unsubtly nearby.

As difficult as it was, it was better to just stay in the bedroom and wait for his wife's return - though it became much less torturous for him when he had his son to focus on. He much preferred to have Carina present and spend time together as their little family unit, but a little quality time with the newborn was always something he would appreciate.

And so, as Carina engaged in the much-needed conversation with Natalia, setting out boundaries and ensuring the advisor knew where she stood, Sven instead remained sat up in bed with their son nestled contently in his arms, doing his best to keep him from crying now he was awake and -inevitably- hungry. Just keeping him quiet until Carina returned was the only thing he could focus on, with the meeting with Natalia falling to the back of his mind as an inconsequence compared to the attention his son demanded from him; attention Sven was more than happy to always give him whenever he needed it.

He had been so transfixed on rocking the baby and keeping him content that he barely acknowledged Carina's return until the door shut behind her, glancing up with a quick smile, unable and unwilling to disguise how content he himself was. And yet, as much as he didn't want to disrupt that with talk of Natalia if things had gone badly, his curiosity wouldn't hold on for too much longer.

"So, uh... how was it? You don't seem angry, which is a good sign. I was considering sending a guard or two to check in on you both in case she's annoyed you and you resorted to... I don't know, giving her the ice treatment or something," he snorted, his gaze inevitably returning to the baby in his arms, his smile softening in response. "...I also didn't hear any shouting which also suggests things went... okay?"
 

Viverescribere

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The young queen remained by the door for a moment after she entered the room, taking a moment just to watch the scene before her. A soft smile slowly pulled at her lips, head tilting to the side ever so slightly as her eyes ran over father and son together. Her heart warmed to levels she hadn't believed to ever be possible, and she still couldn't understand how things had turned out as well as they had done. She was certain she would wake in a few minutes, to find herself back in that disgusting dungeon or some other horrific moment in her life. Perhaps she ought to even pinch herself, but Carina was reluctant to do so, not wanting to end the dream if it was one.

She walked over to the bed, reaching behind herself as she did to begin untying the ribbon that held her dress together. She would need his help eventually, but that could wait. It wasn't as if she could clamber back into bed with him, since he would need to leave soon now she was back.

Sitting on the edge of his side of the bed, she reached out to press a hand to his cheek, thumb gently stroking against his skin. Her eyes lingered on him for a moment before dropping to their son in his arms, who seemed to be dozing once more. His cheeks were rosy, almost a little red and a little furrow in his brow suggested that he hadn't always been that way.

"I've said what I have wanted to say. She listened and she understood. I too... understand that I may need to keep a tight grip of my jealousy, especially now that our son has arrived and you will... undoubtedly be spending copious amounts of time with her now my own will be taken with our child rather than working with you in your office. But I... will try my best to trust and recognise things as platonic, rather than romantic."

Carina kept her eyes on the baby as she spoke the difficult words, hand slipping from his cheek and she cleared her throat once as she did so to avoid her voice wavering in her small speech.

"i-- I asked Natalia to prepare you another cup of coffee. I have no doubt you'll need it after a night like last, and she is organising your desk as we speak. But I'm sure you're already aware of that."

She took a deep breath and finally looked up at him, a small but hesitant smile on her lips, "I will try, Sven. I promise. I do-- I do just want you to be happy."
 

potassiumboron

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Not having expected the meeting to go smoothly (he assumed Natalia's stubbornness or Carina's anger at her would unsettle matters considerably), Sven couldn't disguise the sudden surprise etching onto his features once hearing how his wife seemed to stumble with great difficulty over her words, but it wasn't borne from harsh words from Natalia as he might have thought. It seemed that the words came with a promise to give him the trust he had always desired from her - even if he knew that trust would come into question when he did interact with Natalia and it would take actions (or rather, a lack of them with the former advisor) to prove that he was loyal to his wife alone, the promise that she would try her best was all he could ask for from her.

Just having Natalia back under the castle's roof, interacting with Sven and working closely at his side... it was all bound to be difficult for Carina, he understood that. He knew that his past with Natalia was enough of a reason for her to be unenthused with her presence, but after what Natalia had done; what her poisonous words of manipulation and doubt had caused Sven to believe? She had every reason to hate the woman and refuse to see her gifted a second chance many would believe she didn't deserve.

But the fact she was trying, the fact she saw just how badly Sven needed his friendship with her... it meant everything to the man, and while he didn't want to start growing emotional when he didn't think he could stop crying should he start, he offered a smile across to her and proceeded to rest an arm around her to bring her gently into a hug once their son was placed momentarily back into the bedside crib.

"I'm happy, I-- I've never been happier, Carina. I love you, I love our son, I love what we're building together-- Natalia isn't on my radar romantically; nobody is. I'm loyal to you; you're the first woman I've ever loved and the only one I ever will love, so... I'm not expecting you to not feel doubtful, it's understandable, but I do at least hope you'll... take time to remember just how madly in love with you I am and how I would never jeopardise that for anybody. Don't let doubt ruin what we have," he encouraged as he pressed his lips gently to her forehead, pulling back slightly to take in her features with a smile resting on his own.

"...We still have to give him a name, you know," he continued smoothly, hoping the change of conversation onto their son would be encouraged. "I can't keep referring to him as 'the baby', poor thing needs a name sooner rather than later."
 

Viverescribere

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His words warmed her, sinking down into her icy veins as she allowed them to penetrate the last of the cold walls she had built the moment she was reminded that Natalia was back. She simply didn't want to get hurt, and definitely not come to realise she had been taken for a fool and manipulated all over again. She had warned him what she was like with her emotions, much less confessing them or acknowledging them.

Ignis was full of passion and emotion, they were driven by it. That much was clear from the multiple outbreaks of anger and irritation whenever Sven showed it in the past. He didn't attempt to hold it in, for the majority of the time, mostly letting it slip and then regaining it when reminded by others. Previously Thorin and Natalia.

Eira, meanwhile, had expressions and hearts as frozen as the walls in which they had once lived. Carina had always viewed herself as cool and composed, with not much more than a neutral expression on her features at all times. Her heart had been protected, barricaded, for much of her life, and never had she ever allowed her emotions to rule her and dictate her words or actions. Until recently in Ignis, where a handful of grievances had knocked her so brutally she had been unable to keep that composure. Such as Emmett's death or Sven's accusation of lying.

But her heart had melted for Sven, and while she wished she was capable of telling him more regularly how much she loved him, Carina knew that he knew how she felt. She had said it before, told him how poor she was with her emotions. She was certain he knew.

So she smiled back, bowing her head slightly as he came to kiss her forehead. She moved so she curl better into him as his arm came to wrap around her, shifting so her legs laid over his lap and her head settled on his shoulder. "I will try not to. I promise." She murmured, her own arm stretching across to rest over his chest, the woman taking in a soft breath at the warmth of his body. "I know I don't say it enough... and I-- I want to be better at that, for you. For our son. But I love you too. You know that, don't you?" She looked up at him now, suddenly anxious to ensure he was aware of her emotions.

"I have been trying to think... it's just so difficult. The biggest decisions of our lives, I feel. It's a lot of pressure." She smiled faintly, pausing as she considered the options she had been thinking over, "Alastair, it means defender of mankind... or... Lorcan... that's means fierce one. I feel with us as his parents, he will definitely be fierce and stubborn." She chuckled, a hand moving to run fingers through her hair, "Martell... Cassian... Nikos... have you any ideas?"

Carina eventually turned to show him her back, offering the ribbon ties to him, "Would you mind? This dress isn't so easy to feed him in and I'd much prefer to be in something else if I'm to continue resting." She partially turned her head to look at him from over her shoulder, the smile warming slightly, "Although I promise I will bring him for regular visits while you are working, so you don't miss him too much."
 

potassiumboron

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There might have been recent developments he had become aware of that could have caused doubt to settle in about Carina and her genuine feelings for him... but he chose to move past what he had learnt; trust her when she said that she no longer held those plans to kill him as she had done during the dark times between them. It might not have been an easy fact to simply overlook for someone else, but Sven could do so because he trusted her completely - and when she forgave him for (what he deemed as) much more severe actions, he felt it was only right to extend that second chance to her too; move on together with their past firmly behind them.

So, while he was already completely convinced that she meant every word she said when she told him she loved him, hearing it wasn't something he would ever grow tired of. He never thought he would genuinely hear those words coming from someone he also felt such emotions for, having always been so closed-minded to assume that it would all be one-sided and he would be too 'superior' to ever fall in love and develop that sensitivity for someone.

He had been wrong, evidently, because he had never loved someone as much as he did with Carina.

As much as he might want to devote his time to reassuring her of his love and that her own was understood and known, he didn't want to venture down that emotional path for too long. He had work to do and he had to get to it at some point; something he couldn't really do if he was a blubbering mess, emotionally professing his love for her.

So moving onto the subject of their newborn son and what name he would be given was something he clung to immediately, giving his mind something else to focus on as he peered contemplatively down to the boy in the decision, hoping that one of the names she suggested would stick and fit him.

He obligingly moved to untie the ribbons whilst considering the names further, his own head tilted to the side as he kept his eyes trained on his son before a smile spread on his own lips, one name in particular having stuck in his mind; a name that just fell easily on his lips whenever he glanced to his son, knowing that was the name that seemed to fit him the most.

"I like Lorcan. It's... I think that's his name, Carina. It suits him, doesn't it? He looks like a Lorcan, I think-- I think that's what we should call him."
 

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"Lorcan it is." Carina breathed, her own head turning to take in their son as he laid dozing in the cot, "Are we to give him a middle name? Seems unfair that we had one for if it was a girl but no ideas for our boy." She chuckled slightly, skin breaking out into goose bumps as his fingers occasionally grazed across the skin of her back. Ophelia Alice Ignis, at least they still had that name for if they ever had a girl. If they had another child.

The young mother knew that her husband had longed to be a father, and their deal - created out of cruelty and a desperation to survive - had included two more children. While now the terms of that deal were invalid, considering at the time neither of them would have ever expected this turn of events, Carina still warmed to the idea of having more children. Of them being a larger family than three.

Her hand stretched out to softly rub Lorcan's stomach, knowing soon that it would be bloated with milk, and her head once more turned to look at him from over her shoulder, "You... still want more, don't you? Children, I mean." She asked, only turning slightly once the majority of her dress had been undone by him for her. Her hand remained on Lorcan's belly while her eyes lingered on Sven, "Because I-- I know it's too early to say now, since he was only born last night but... I think I would like more. I would like for him to have siblings, like I had done, and for us to be a bigger family."

Reaching for him with her free hand, Carina took hold of Sven's hand, thumb rubbing over the back of his knuckles, "I'm not saying right away, as I'm sure we'll be struggling with this one for a while," she chuckled lightly, "But... perhaps a year or two. Allow ourselves to enjoy this, and enjoy each other where we can."

Carina lingered there for a moment, one hand on Sven's and the other on Lorcan, before she eventually leaned forward to press her lips softly to his, "I'm keeping you, and I am going to be making you late. I'm sorry. You should get ready." She cupped his cheek to add another kiss to the opposite one, "Shall we lunch together? We can have it in your office, I can bring Lorcan too, so your withdrawal symptoms don't get too bad."
 

potassiumboron

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Sven was more than happy to bask in the moment of contentedness that had fallen over them in contrast to how tense and even upsetting the morning had been. He wanted nothing more than to remain in this moment for as long as he could; put aside his duties and drink in the feeling of spending his morning with his family, especially when their son had just been born and he wanted to make the most of that new experience of sharing his life with him.

He hadn't expected the conversation to continue when the silence was more than comfortable, finding he didn't need to say anything for the scene to be as perfect as it was. It was blissful; Carina affectionately seeing to their son while Sven observed from his space on the bed, desiring nothing else but to watch the loving scene play out.

Which was why he was momentarily stunned by the continuance of the conversation and its subject, his mouth opening and shutting in quick succession as he absorbed the words and tried to pull the answers out from his mind in return. He already knew them; his opinions hadn't changed since the birth of his son. If anything, his birth made his desire for more children even stronger, wanting their little family to expand just a little further.

But he was no longer willing to demand that of Carina. He may desire more children but the obligation she had been under to fulfil that demand no longer existed; it crumbled into ash the moment their love for one another began to bloom. And thus, who was he to demand more from her if she had other thoughts on the matter? She was the one who would have to put her body through nine months of discomfort; it was entirely up to her whether she wanted to do so or not.

...But then she said she wanted more and his smile widened, unable to pretend that those weren't the words he longed to hear from her.

"I mean, it's rather obvious that I would like one or two more, sure. I'm just-- willing to do whatever you want to do. If you change your mind in the future and backtrack, then that's fine too; there's no pressure. But... But I would like a chance to have more at some point; for us to have a big family to care for. I-- I think that'd be rather sweet," he admitted as his own eyes trailed down to Lorcan fondly, the idea of giving him a sibling or two to grow up alongside being the only real aim that Sven could say he held at the moment.

"You're not keeping me, I want to be here. I know that's unrealistic given the workload I have but-- no. No, you're right; I ought to get going," he reluctantly groaned, accepting the kiss eagerly before having to ease himself up from the bed, a tired sigh leaving him at the effort it took to shift his sleep-deprived body from the comfort of his covers.

"Lunch sounds ideal; I'll see you then. I can't promise I won't be asleep at my desk when you come by but just wake me up if that does happen; I want to eat lunch with you and spend some time with Lorcan so-- don't let sleep get in the way of that, Carina. I need to spend time with my family more than anything else."
 

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"I will do no such thing, if you are sleeping I will not be the one to wake you. You had a rough night and will need all the rest you can get." She answered firmly but with a softness to the edges of her tone. She stood to follow after him, pulling the dress from her shoulders as she walked behind her changing screen. She threw the gown over the top of it, pulling the fresh nightgown down from it soon after, it was a garment she knew would be easier to feed Lorcan in, not prepared to have to be continuously laced and unlaced from a fancier gown.

She stepped back out, bare feet padding against the rug as she made her way into the bathroom to splash her face with some cool water. Dapping herself dry, she finally returned to the bathroom, picking up a small jar of hand cream of which she scooped some out by her two fingers to begin rubbing into her hands.

Carina kept her eyes on her husband as he prepared himself for his day, eventually walking over to him to press herself against his back, arms coming up from behind so her forearms were vertical against his chest and hands on his shoulders. The position forced her onto tiptoe, but she didn't mind as she turned her head so her cheek rested against the spot between his shoulder blades.

"I shan't hear of any arguing, Sven. I will bring Lorcan down but if you are napping then we will wait until you're awake. Besides it will... give... Natalia a chance to see him. I am sure you would like that, wouldn't you?" The sentence was difficult to say, but she had promised she would at least try with the woman. She owed Sven that. "I could perhaps organise some little picking things, rather than a heavy meal. We can... all eat together." She pressed her lips to the nape of his neck, "Please don't think that is my way of keeping an eye on the two of you. It's an olive branch. A small one, but one nevertheless. It will also allow me to stay in the loop, with decisions and decrees."

Reluctantly she allowed her hands to trail, slowly, down his chest, not eager to let him go just yet. Exhaling, she stepped back from him, "I think this is going to be my new hardest thing to do. Letting you go in the morning-- now listen to me. Who is the one getting soppy and soft now?" Carina laughed, shaking her head at herself.

A gurgling whimper soon came from the cot, and Carina turned her head to look over her shoulder at the cot. "Well, my new duty calls." She smiled fondly, "I think someone is ready for their second breakfast of the morning." She walked over to where Lorcan lay, carefully and tenderly picking the child up to cradle him against her chest. As the baby's head turned into her chest in search of food, Carina looked back up to Sven, the smile turning back onto him, "Don't wear yourself out now. We'll see you soon."
 

potassiumboron

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The idea of being allowed to continue to sleep when it would mean missing out on quality time with his family made him groan in annoyance (albeit somewhat feigned in order to be playful rather than too serious). Time with them would now become limited when he had his work to tend to so he naturally wanted to make the most of the time he did get with them - and sleeping through that wouldn't help that desire much.

Admittedly, he felt a little pathetic for being so tired after just one night of dealing with a newborn. Granted, he had sat up as his son had his feed to ensure that he took in how precious the moment was and let his wife know that he supported her; that she wasn't expected to be the only one to disrupt her sleeping pattern. He wanted Carina to know he had her back, even if that meant sitting up with her as she fed their son and keeping her company; assuring her that she wasn't the only one to have to make that sacrifice.

But apparently, just one night of doing so had already exhausted him to the point that sleeping at lunch was a distinct possibility he had to warn her of.

The likelihood of her allowing him to sleep through it was high -he knew she would prefer him to catch up on his sleep before it affected his work- but he proceeded to whine childishly about it nonetheless, only ceasing from the playful challenging when feeling her press in close against his back, the close proximity allowing a warm smile to rise appreciatively on his face.

The smile only proceeded to rise as her hands wandered over his chest - and all but became a grin at her suggestions that Natalia would be allowed to meet Lorcan. He understood that Carina would be hesitant to allow it and thus he had made no effort to convince her to do so. He wanted Natalia to meet his son, share in the memory he had always dreamt of, but it had seemed so unrealistic at this point that he hadn't even considered really pushing for it to happen, not after Natalia's behaviour and the emotional repercussions it had had on his wife.

And yet here Carina was, offering that olive branch despite how difficult it might have been for her to do so.

"...I'd like that, I-- I really would. That's-- fantastic, Carina. Truly. Thank you," he blurted, aware of how pathetic he probably sounded spluttering over his words but it was at least indicative of how grateful he was towards her that he didn't care to even feign poise and composure - not that he ever really saw a need to do so around Carina. She had seen him at his lowest; there really wasn't any point in appearing one way around her when feeling another, knowing she accepted who he was (these days) regardless.

"Ah, r-right, yes. Don't leave him waiting, he's clearly peckish, so... I'll be on my way, reluctantly," he sighed as he turned to face both Carina and the baby tucked contently in her arms. As gently as he possibly could, he left a kiss on his son's forehead before reciprocating the action to his wife, albeit on her lips with a tad more intensity.

"I'll see you at lunch, then - and I mean that. I won't be dropping off to sleep; I'll consume my weight in coffee to ensure it."
 

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"Mhm, go, before I force you to stay here after a kiss like that." Carina teased, eyes flickering over him to ensure he hadn't forgotten anything. A button, a belt, a cufflink. Anything that might have been overlooked due to tiredness or overwhelming emotion. It also allowed her a moment to simply drink him in, to appreciate what he had just done for her in the last twenty-four hour alone. He had been by her side for the entire labour, had not once complained about how tightly she had squeezed his hand, and had dutifully fed her the ice-chips she requested on command.

It had been amusing to her that they had both seemed to have forgotten their positions of power during that time. They were suddenly no longer King and Queen, but simply regular people about to become parents. It was also then that she realised that anything could have happened to her or Lorcan. They may have the ability to control ice and fire, they may have two kingdoms under their control, but nothing could have been done if her time had been up, or if Lorcan had had difficulties. They would have been helpless and powerless. Something they don't often tend to experience.

To chase the thought away, she reached up to steal another kiss from him before he left, smiling contentedly as her one hand gently patted at Lorcan's lower back to soothe him as the baby began to fuss a little more.

"Not too much, otherwise you won't be sleeping tonight either." Carina told him firmly, reluctantly moving to sit on the edge of the bed in preparation to feed their son.

She had to sit, lest she walked back over to him and attempted to convince him to stay. But she knew how important it was for him to go back to work. Yesterday alone would have seen him miss an abundance of important updates. It was a shame he couldn't take some sort of duty relief. But they were still building their trust with his new council, and Carina wouldn't want him to have to leave all decisions to them for the next week or so. As much as she would have preferred for them to all hide away in their new room for a little while, just the three of them.

"Go on then, go and write a declaration to be read out within the villages and towns about our gorgeous new son." She finally chuckled, shuffling back to sit up against the pillows, just in time for the crying to start.
 

potassiumboron

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Even if he knew he only had so many hours in a day and some of those had to be dedicated to getting his work back on track, it didn't stop the King from hesitating at the door to glance back at his family and wishing he could abandon his duties just for a little while longer. He wanted to throw on something more casual and resume his position in bed where he could remain for the rest of the day, just absorbing the fact he was a father, sharing that parental role with someone he loved; a love he hadn't even been sure he would ever truly feel until... he did, so abruptly and out of the blue.

Alas, he knew he couldn't linger around any longer, having run out of excuses to stay. No matter what he said, Carina would waive it aside and push him to his office, where he needed to be. She might want to remain in their little bubble a little while longer, like Sven, but she was the only one really capable of convincing him to get back to work before things became too overwhelming to return to - and he needed that from her or he would just be tempted to let it all pile up.

And so, after unsubtly resisting the inevitable for as long as he could, Sven made his exit from the room and headed towards his office, albeit not after stopping a passing member of staff to politely request a coffee to be brought to him. He didn't want to drink too many of them, aware that he would only be up all night and even more exhausted after the caffeine injection wore off, but for now, with his eyes stinging everytime they shut and his head pounding as though an alarm was going off within it, he desperately needed the beverage he had been so fond of since his teenage years.

The few hours until lunch weren't as mundane as he thought they might be, having assumed that each minute would itself feel like an hour when he knew where else he could be rather than at his desk, sorting through letters and drafting the announcement to be given to his people later that day; an announcement of the birth of his son who he would much rather be with than at a desk at work. Ultimately, it wasn't as bad as he had thought it to be, partly because he had so much work to get through that he had no option but to intensely focus on it but also because he wasn't alone and dealing with the work himself.

He had Natalia to at least occupy him when his mind wandered, to chat to about how fortunate he was in his present and laugh over moments from their past (their past as friends, rather than the moments dominated by unrequited love - wisely, that topic was avoided like the plague). The conversations -and the coffees- meant he remained awake when Carina eventually made her appearance for lunch, his eyes drifting up from his papers to take in her and Lorcan at the doorway. The sight of them was all he needed for a smile to grow, standing immediately to help pull the chair out from the desk for her to sit on.
 

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The first half of her day didn't feel half as productive as she could imagine Sven's to be. It was spent tending to Lorcan's every need, learning from the midwife how best to burp him, feed him, change him... everything she needed to learn as a mother. Not to mention, a nap thrown in there as she had been told she ought to sleep when the baby was sleeping. A small tip she wouldn't mind following after the first night they had. She simply felt guilt that Sven wasn't able to do the same.

Her maid came to wake her just before lunch, as she requested, in order for her to change and look presentable. Not to mention to get Lorcan into one of the cute outfits that one of the families in the village had given Sven on one of his visits. She had changed first, slipping into a day gown that had been made for her specifically for this point of their life with the baby. It was proper, suitable to entertain in and walk around the castle in, but would hold no restrictions for when it came to feeding Lorcan. It was soft against her skin, and didn't cling to her, which was a relief. Lorcan, meanwhile, she had dressed in his nursery after gently bathing him under the watchful eye of the midwife's assistant. The family had provided soft cotton bottoms in grey, with a cotton, deep purple shirt with a matching beanie-like hat. She worked his feet into a pair of thin socks, smiling softly as she watched him wriggle ever so slightly once she was done. The soft noises he made caused her heart to burst with the love she felt for him, incapable of believing just how lucky she was to be apart of all of this.

Eventually she was making her way down to the King's study, accompanied by her maid whom she sent on to the kitchens to ask them to bring the lunch she requested to Sven's office. She entered with a knock on the door, stepping in quietly in case he had fallen asleep as she held Lorcan to her chest, cradled in her other arm.

"I hope your morning has been more productive than mine." She jested, settling comfortably into the chair he pulled out for her. Carina glanced between the other two, free hand raising to remove Lorcan's little hat as she didn't want him to overheat. Ignis was hardly cold even when it was the autumn, winter months. Cold enough for her to light a fire in the library, but even then that was pushing it.

Her hand moved to allow Lorcan's searching one to grasp around her index finger, the baby fully awake at this point. His blue eyes wide and staring up at his mother as his mouth opened and closed, tongue pushing against his lips as he gurgled and continued with his soft noises.

"I've asked for lunch to be brought up--" Carina hesitantly looked to Natalia, pausing for a moment, "Will you join us? I'm sure Sven would... like for you to have the chance to meet Lorcan properly." She murmured, extending the offer before peering back to her husband, "Did you settle on a middle name? A prince cannot have one name alone." She chuckled.
 

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The fact Carina had brought along Lorcan wasn't a surprise: as a new mother, it made sense for her to want to spend every moment she possibly could with her son rather than hand him off to a maid and remove herself of the responsibility. Ultimately some former royals in ignis had chosen such a detached mentality from their own offspring (such as Sven's own mother had done) but Natalia didn't deem the new Queen as such a parent. She may have a turbulent, rocky past with her that still hadn't completely thawed just yet, but she wouldn't ever deny that Carina would probably be a wonderful mother.

However, it did come as a surprise to see the woman arrive with her son in the knowledge that Natalia would probably be present. Despite her earlier words claiming that the former advisor would be able to meet the newborn only in the presence of his parents, she hadn't contemplated that meeting happening so soon. Trust was difficult to earn once it had been broken (not that it was ever really there between the women in the first place) so the fact Carina had arrived with the boy nestled in her arms, aware that Natalia would be in the room... it was surprising, she wasn't able to deny that.

Her first reaction was to smile warmly at the Prince's quiet gurgling, the sight of him reaching to curl his entire hand around one of Carina's fingers being impossibly cute - but any desire she had to stay and find happiness in seeing her friend be the father he had always wanted to be wasn't something she could see through. The discomfort she felt within just a few seconds of being in the situation was intense; she felt like she was simply intruding on what ought to be a solely private moment amongst a new family. Perhaps if things were on better terms with Carina she wouldn't feel that way.

But they weren't, so she didn't.

"No, I think I'd best be off to have lunch in my own office. I've been so busy organising Sven's that my own has fallen into disrepair, I imagine. I think I'll set my attention on that for an hour or so - you both enjoy your lunch together. Sven's been looking forward to it so don't let me intrude on it--"

"It really isn't a problem, Nat. Carina wouldn't offer if she didn't mean it. I thought you wanted to stay, see Lorcan--"

"Another time, perhaps," the woman interjected quickly (albeit calmly) as she removed herself from her chair and gathered her files. Her eyes strayed back to the baby as she moved to pass by Carina, withholding the urge to smile again and simply let her lips tilt upwards a tad. "He's adorable; looks a lot like the both of you. I'm sure I'll spend time with him another day, Sven. That day isn't today, not with the work I have to get through."

"I... right, of course. That's fine, I completely understand. Don't let me distract you, Natalia," the King responded as he nodded in agreement, easing back against his chair with a faint frown only appearing once she had slipped out the room. The frown would be replaced by a quick smile when his coffee made an appearance, thanking the maid as he held the cup and took a much-needed sip, the hot liquid resulting in a content sigh in spite of Natalia's decision genuinely upsetting him. He wasn't annoyed by her choice, but rather saddened for her that she was missing out on something he knew she wanted to experience (and see him experience) because she didn't think she had a right to enjoy it just yet.

He appreciated her attempt to do what she felt was right, of course - but it was hard to see one of his closest friends absent from something so major and personal in his life.

"Ah, a middle name. I'm not following tradition and given him my father's name, that's not going to happen. I won't condemn the kid to bear that oaf's name, so... I quite liked Ember, but Natalia said that was corny given my abilities," he snorted as he set his coffee down, his hands coming together and resting out on the table in front of him. "I did also like Roux. Lorcan Roux had a nice ring to it, I thought."
 

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The young queen hesitated, stilling in her seat as the adviser got up and left, albeit in a slight hurry. Her head turned to watch the other woman leave, remaining that way as she stared at the office doors even while Sven spoke. She bit lightly at her lower lip, brow furrowing as she tried to figure out why the woman had left in such a hurry. She knew she had spoken to Natalia that morning to make things crystal clear between them, but she hadn't been half as brutal as she could have been - and arguably had the right to be. She had even offered for her to see Lorcan in the exact situation that she had presented in the office.

At Sven's last sentence, Carina realised he was speaking to her and glanced back to him, the frown still present on her expression, "Hm? Oh-- oh yes. Lorcan Roux, I do quite like that." She agreed, shaking her head as she forced herself to bring her attention back onto her husband. She smiled quietly, "Lorcan Roux Ignisi. Yes, I think that will do nicely."

Carina fell silent for a moment afterwards, watching her husband drink his coffee and attend to any papers he may have saved for his lunch break. However it soon weighed too heavily on her, and she moved to the edge of the seat to get his attention.

"Did I-- did I say something? I thought... I didn't mean to..." She freed her hand from Lorcan's finger to rub the back of her neck, watching Sven for his reaction in case his expression or eyes said something his words did not. "It wasn't me trying to keep an eye on you both-- I genuinely was just trying to offer what I said she could... have. Time with Lorcan with you or I around. She's-- she's your friend, I don't want to deprive either of you from experiencing this together as friends should. I-- I promised I wouldn't."

She did mean true on her words that she had spoken to both Natalia and Sven. She wouldn't suspect or dismiss Natalia without good reason to. They had all learned the consequences of jumping into accusations without the full proof behind them. So she would give the woman her second chance until she felt she had no cause to.

"Maybe-- maybe I could come back at the end of the day? See if she would like to... have a moment with Lorcan then? I don't need to be here. It can just be the two of you if I'm the issue. We haven't seen eye to eye on any occasion, so I'm not going to be offended if I am." She snorted softly, peering down at their son, "So long as you stay with Lorcan... I don't mind not being in the room while she meets him properly."
 

potassiumboron

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The agreement regarding their son's middle name was a weight off Sven's mind, allowing him to relax and look at his son, content in the fact he now had a full name that he could accurately announce to the kingdom inevitably waiting patiently for details on the new Prince and heir to the throne. Satisfied with the name -in fact, sounding it aloud himself made him grin in appreciation of how perfectly it seemed to suit his son-, he moved to unwind a nearby scroll to update the speech, the act of just writing out Lorcan's name giving Sven untold amount of pride and joy.

It dipped just a little when Carina next spoke up, the confusion and doubt in her tone causing a frown of his own to settle on his features. He didn't know why Natalia had taken her leave when he and Carina were more than happy for her to remain present but he chose not to spend too much time debating it when he assumed, deep down, Natalia thought she was doing what was best; that her absence would make Carina more comfortable, especially when this was a chance to spend time with Sven and her newborn son.

In Natalia's eyes, she didn't need to be present, intervening into such a personal, private interaction.

"You didn't do anything," he reassured quietly, setting his quill down next to the pot of ink once realising that this wasn't a worry he could really alleviate with just one supportive comment. The uncertainty in Carina's voice wasn't easy to hear, uncomfortable with the fact she was assuming she was the cause of Natalia's sudden departure. In a way, she might have been - albeit not for the negative reasons that Carina apparently thought she might be inadvertently responsible for.

"Natalia just... I'm not sure why she left but I'm sure she thinks she's being helpful. Maybe she feels we ought to be alone as a family, maybe she doesn't want to make you... feel awkward? I'm not sure, but I guarantee it's nothing to do specifically with you; it's nothing you've said or done. If you had done something, you'd know for certain. Natalia's not one to hide her emotions particularly well - if you've annoyed her, you'd now about it, hon," he continued with the faintest hint of a smirk, unable to stop himself inwardly recalling all the times Natalia had been annoyed and wasted little time in showing it - and acting on it. When it was in his defence, he valued and found amusement in it - but there was nothing more daunting than being on the other side of it.

Even with his powers and physical advantages, Natalia had always had a tendency to unnerve him when she was angered - and it was her inability to hold back that side of her that allowed him to confidently state that Carina wasn't the issue here.

"If she wants to see Lorcan, she can ask; I don't want to push her. If she thinks she's doing us a favour by keeping her distance from him, I'll let her think that until she's... ready to accept the fact that this second chance is a genuine one. I'm not sure she does quite yet; she's walking on eggshells afraid of making a mistake, which isn't healthy but there we are. Once she relaxes a little, I'm sure she'd be eager to see him - let's just let her take things at her own time. I've learned not to push people into acting how I think they ought to. People are complex, right? Now, let's just have some lunch and unwind because I need that-- I haven't stopped working all morning, it's been a lot."