"Now I'm really going to have to marry your mother," says Bors to the baby in his arms as the people cheer their newly-wedded king and queen.
"Who said I'd have you?" Vanora retorts, taking the child from him, with a smile to smooth out the sting in her words, only mostly meant in jest. He takes her for granted, she knows he does; she's always there when he returns from his battles, with a flagon of ale, a plate of food and her warm body, softer now from years of childbearing but always welcoming nevertheless. He loves her, too, in his own way, but he's never been all that good at showing it.
To her, he is her life. She has been bearing his children since she was little more than a child herself; they have grown up together and now he is all she knows. Lover, companion, father of her children; though secretly she wants nothing more than to have him as husband she has been content with what she has, always sure that in the end he would go home and leave her and their brood behind.
And now it has all changed. Dagonet is gone, and without his friend Bors seems to have no more desire to return to Sarmatia. Now he speaks of marriage, and Vanora is not sure whether to laugh or weep. Surely he is not being serious, after all this time? And yet the thought that perhaps he might be clutches at her heart and she feels like a naive, romantic girl all over again. She blinks away the unbidden tears and smiles again, hugging her youngest child to her as she turns her attention back to the festivities.
Much later, though, in bed, long after she thinks he's gone to sleep, Bors rolls over and puts his arm around her, pulling her tight and safe against him. "I meant what I said," he whispers. "I would never have left you, not really. They're my children, and you, you're my woman, Vanora. Where would I ever find another one like you?"
She turns and rests her head against his chest, listening to his steady breathing and the rhythm of his heart. "Are you asking me to marry you, then?" she asks, and the rumble of his laugh echoes in her ears.
"Of course I am, love. If you'll have me?"
"I think I can see my way to it," she says, and this time she does not blink away the tears of joy as he lays an uncharacteristically gentle kiss upon her forehead and seals her future for good.