Duchess Zelda stepped outside her family’s expansive house, taking in a deep breath of the night air. It was quite chilly out here this evening, but at least it made the stars twinkle just that little bit more brightly. She pulled her fine cloak tighter around herself (not made of wolf skin despite the current trend, however, she did not want to upset her friend Duke Jack), trying to ward off the chill in the air.
But Zelda could already see that someone was out here despite the cold.
“Sir Justin?” Zelda called, seeing the knight out on patrol. She could hear his armour, as could anyone else in the area. That was the point, though, to ward off enemies and wolves.
“Lady Zelda,” said Justin, smiling as he heard her voice. He rode closer to the house, stopping just outside it so he could look up at the balcony where Zelda stood. “Good evening. How fare you, my lady?”
“I am faring well, thank you, Sir Justin,” said Zelda. “How fare you on this cold evening?”
“Well, I am just glad that I do not have the Valedale patrol,” said Justin with a chuckle. “It is bitterly cold there all the time.”
“I do not envy the patrol who has to do that,” said Zelda, joining in his laughter. “When does your patrol finish?”
“It is a quiet evening,” said Justin. “I am sure that my commander will not be too upset if I decide to end it early. Especially if it is to spend time with my lady.”
“Oh, Justin, you flatter me,” said Zelda with a blush and a giggle. “I am sure that the walls will keep out any wolves or ne’er do-wells.”
“They have for centuries,” said Justin. He looked around. “And, if I am being honest, I am beginning to see frost on my helm.” Zelda laughed.
“Then you must come inside,” said Zelda. “You may put your Maximilian in my family’s stable, if you like. I will be down in no time.”
When Zelda opened the front doors of Dusknight Manor, Justin was there waiting for her. She grinned to see him, and only resisted the urge to embrace him because he was still clad in his armour.
“Shall we adjourn to my bedroom?” asked Zelda. “I simply must get that armour off of you, you must surely be freezing.” At least he had taken his helmet off, so Zelda could reach up on her toes and kiss him. Justin blushed.
“My lady, surely that is improper. People might talk,” said Justin.
“Let them talk,” said Zelda with a smile. “I am not Lady Louisa, scared of words and rumours.” She took hold of Justin’s hand, not minding the chilliness of the chainmail, and took him up to her bedchambers where there was a fire burning warmly in the hearth.
“It is much better in here,” said Justin with a sigh of relief. Zelda helped him take off his gauntlets, and then the rest of his armour.
“Come and sit by the fire,” said Zelda once all of Justin’s armour was off. He was wearing simple white clothes underneath, or they had been white before the dirt and grime of the day had turned them a vaguely brown colour.
“Thank you,” said Justin, sitting in one of the plush armchairs close to the fire. He held his hands out to warm them, and Zelda thought that the pink in his cheeks was from the warmth of the fire.
“It is no trouble at all,” said Zelda. “I was simply extending a hand of kindness towards a noble knight.”
“A noble knight whom you are courting,” said Justin. “So I should not be so ashamed of the fact that you are in a state of undress.”
“Whatever do you mean?” asked Zelda, and then looked down at her simple dress of a similar colour to Justin’s current attire. “Oh! Yes, I was preparing for bed when I heard you patrolling. These are only my night clothes, Justin.”
“I know,” said Justin. “But, we are… it is…”
“Would you like me to change into something else?” asked Zelda, standing in front of the fire. He looked so flustered, it was truly adorable. “Nobody can see us in here, Justin. It is okay.”
“I know,” said Justin. “I am just too polite, it seems.”
“Far too polite,” said Zelda. “But if I am to be your bride, you must become accustomed to this.”
“So, would it be rude if I… kissed you?” asked Justin.
“Not at all,” said Zelda. “In fact, I would love nothing more.”
“Then I shall,” said Justin. He stood, took a step towards Zelda, and then kissed her. It was a hesitant kiss at first, but then Zelda made a small noise in her throat and Justin wrapped his arms around her. He kissed her more firmly then, enjoying the feel of her body without any of the ornamentation of her usual dress. Her night gown was simple, made of a soft material that was thick enough to ward off the chill of the night but thin enough that Justin could see and feel her body through it. He tried to pull away, fearing that he might take things too far, but then Zelda wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled loose the string around the short tresses that he really should get cut one of these days.
“Oh, sir Justin,” Zelda murmured. Justin moaned and tried to pull her closer to him, walking backwards over to the bed without even realising it. But when he felt the bed underneath him, he stopped.
“Wait,” said Justin, his cheeks now flaming hotter than the fire. “We should abstain.”
“I would rather go ahead,” said Zelda. “It is not as though somebody will walk in on us.”
“But what if something happens?” asked Justin.
“I suppose that you are right,” said Zelda. “It is far too much of a risk. But I would still much prefer it if you stayed.”
“I suppose that my commander will not be too upset if I stay the night with a noble,” said Justin. “And you requested it, after all.”
“Yes, I did,” said Zelda. “And it would be rude to refuse a lady. Especially your betrothed.” She could still barely believe that she was getting married, and to a knight, no less.
“Even if it is improper to share a bed with you at this stage?” asked Justin.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” said Zelda, her tone teasing and flirtatious.
“It shall be our secret,” said Justin, and kissed her. Zelda returned the kiss, though it was a sweeter one this time.
“Goodnight, Sir Justin,” said Zelda after dousing the lamps and returning to Justin by the light of the fire. It had burned down a little now, but it still cast a warm glow throughout the room. Justin wrapped his arms around his betrothed, kissing her again.
They fell asleep in each others arms, Zelda resting her head comfortably on Justin’s chest. His strong arms around her felt so comforting, and so right. She truly loved this man, and she knew that the feeling was definitely mutual.