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Moya Zhena

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Mila often wonders if this will ever pass.

It’s been months now, nearing half a year already, since she and Sara were married. Months have passed since she stood, hands joined with her soon to be wife, and said sacred words in front of their family, their friends, and the Prince himself, who insisted on attending as many of his Zaschita’s weddings as he could. The ceremony had been as quiet as it possibly could be, considering it was a wedding between a royal guard and an esteemed Lady of the royal court, for which Mila had been grateful.

It hadn’t been perfect, but Mila assumes that no wedding ever is. She’d insisted on wearing her sword and scabbard with her wedding gown, as it was customary for Zaschita to marry with their sword by their side. It’s such an important symbol in a royal guard’s life that it’s even integrated into the ceremony; oaths of commitment are sworn with sword in hand and a promise to protect one’s spouse for all their days. Most Zaschita opt to marry in their uniform to avoid the complications that might arise from wearing a scabbard and a dress, but Mila had absolutely refused to allow her profession to keep her from wearing an extravagant wedding gown.

Unfortunately, that meant that there was a small situation mid ceremony where her scabbard tore a considerably sized hole in the delicate lace of her skirts. As it happened, she could feel her seamstress’s agony.

Following that, there had been the moment of horror when they thought the ring bearer, Prince Viktor’s faithful poodle, might have eaten the rings, only for the Prince himself to sheepishly come forward in the midst of pre-wedding panic and tell them he’d forgotten that he’d put them in his pocket for safekeeping. Mila is still fairly certain that if it had been anyone besides the Crown Prince himself, Sara would have throttled him in her frustration.

It hadn’t been a perfect wedding, but it was exactly the wedding they both wanted. Everyone that mattered to them came to see them wed and celebrate their new life together. General Yakov had danced with her, pretending the whole time to be gruff about the whole endeavor, while very obviously trying to hold back tears. He’s her general, and a General doesn’t cry at their Captain’s wedding, but they’ve both always known he’s more than that to her. The long bear hug and rough “proud of you” he’d said in her ear after their dance was proof of that.

Even abrasive Yuri had managed to be somewhat amiable that day; he’d only called her karga once the entire day, and it had been paired with a mumbled “congratulations”. It was followed by a rather embarrassed request—well, a demand, really—that they never speak of it again. Mila had been about to promptly tease him for it, but then he stepped forward and hugged her around her middle, squeezing her tightly for a few brief moments, making it the longest hug he’s ever given her, even up to the present day. Mila had decided to give him a free pass just the one time, but hadn’t managed to resist ruffling his hair before he pulled away, earning herself an indignant and infuriated squawk. It had been worth the fierce glare he’d turned on her then.

Then, most importantly, Sara. Her bride, the love of her life, who had stood in front of Mila with her eyes shining with tears, her hands warm and familiar in her own as they spoke sacred words, swearing themselves to each other for life. Mila remembers smiling so hard her cheeks ached with it when they were pronounced married in the eyes of the Crown. She remembers being caught between the desire to stare at her wife for all eternity, and kissing her until the only thing she knew was Sara’s lips on her own.

But it’s been months now. They’ve settling into a comfortable, happy married life. And yet Mila still finds herself wondering if this will ever pass; the way her heart jumps in anticipation every time she makes her way home at the end of the day to see her wife.

She comes home most days bone tired from a day of training and guard duty, her feet dragging as she makes her way up the cobblestone path up to their house. It’s a cottage, really—cozy and spacious enough for the two of them, but there is nothing grand about it. Mila hadn’t been sad to move out of the Zaschita barracks, which were well maintained and overall a decent place to live, but one got sick of seeing their fellow guards day in and day out. Trying to find solitude was a struggle, and though she didn’t need it often, she did relish it from time to time.

Most Zaschita live in the barracks, and the only ones who don’t are the ones who marry. In those cases, they are permitted to move into one of the small cottages, just far enough away from the barracks to give one the sense of home, but close enough that all the guards were close enough to spring into action if they are needed.

Of course, it hadn’t been easy for them. Most Zaschita don’t marry ladies so high above their station, because most wouldn’t opt to live with a spouse in a tiny cottage, away from the palace court. It was nice, but it wasn’t luxurious like the accommodations Sara had been used to up until their wedding. Many disapproved of the situation, even Mila at first. How could she ask Sara to give up so much just to marry her?

Sara’s response had been to kiss her gently, then to flick her cheek like she always does when she feels Mila is being silly, and say: “I’m losing nothing compared to what I’m gaining”.

With Sara’s fervent permission, Mila had allowed herself to be selfish in this one thing. She supposed she’s allowed to be selfish when it comes to the joy of coming home to her wife every day.

Today, she pushes the door to their home open with that fluttery, anticipatory feeling in her chest. She loves being a Captain with the Zaschita, but gods, this is her favourite part of the day.

“Sara?” she calls as she closes the door behind her. She unbuckles her sword belt, the weight at her hip slackening when she lifts the scabbard and places it at its place next to the door. She kicks her boots off next, curling her toes and relishing the stretch. “Lyubov moya, are you home?”

“Mila~,” Sara calls out, her voice drifting from the bedroom, “moya zhena has returned!”

Mila smiles at the warmth and excitement in her voice, and makes her way towards the sound of Sara’s voice. Before she’s made it halfway, Sara comes darting out of their bedroom in a whirlwind of blue silk and jet-black hair.

In preparation for the what she predicts is about to happen, Mila opens her arms and braces herself so Sara doesn’t knock her over when she vaults into her arms.

Ever predictable, that’s exactly what Sara does; her slight weight is no match for Mila’s strength when she crashes into her, her arms winding around Mila’s neck. Mila’s hands instinctively drop to her waist, hugging her close in return. Because she can’t help herself, she briefly lifts Sara enough so that her feet dangle just above the floor. This earns her a surprised—but delighted—squeak.

Sara’s lips find Mila’s as she is lowered to the floor, and Mila responds enthusiastically. Ah, yes. This is what she’d been missing all day. Sara really ought to stop giving such world stopping kisses if she expects Mila to grow accustomed to this daily life.

“What did I do to deserve such a grand welcome?” Mila asks when they break apart. She punctuates her question with another kiss.

“I missed you today,” Sara answers, like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Maybe it is.

“I did too,” Mila says truthfully. She always does. “You’re dressed up nice.”

“You like it?” Sara steps away, grabs one of Mila’s hands and lifts it, prompting her to spin her as if they were on a ballroom floor. It gives Mila a thorough view of the ensemble she has on; a simple but elegant gown of pale blue silk, with a low neckline that betrays more than a mere suggestion of cleavage. The plunging neckline is adorned with an understated filigree, set with clear, crystal-like gems. Her earrings are two moderately sized studs that match the bodice perfectly.

“You look beautiful,” Mila says appreciatively. “As you always do. Dare I ask the occasion?”

Sara smiles at her, faux innocent sparkling in her eyes. “We’re dining with my brother tonight, cara mia.”

Mila doesn’t even bother to disguise her groan.

“None of that!” Sara reprimands her with a swat at her shoulder. “It’ll be fun, I promise. I asked him to make sure the cook serves those lemon cakes you love so much.”

“Are you trying to bribe me with food to get me to sit through a painful evening while your brother eyes me disapprovingly?”

“Yes,” Sara says, completely unapologetic. “You signed up for this when you married me. I heated water for you, now go bathe and dress, you smell like sweat and the stables.”

Mila groans again as Sara nudges her towards the baths. “I wasn’t even in the stables today!” she protests.

“A mystery,” Sara muses. She sounds as wholly unconcerned as she looks, with her slightly smug smile, and the expectant quirk of her brow. “We can talk about it on our way to the estate.”

Mila sighs and allows herself to be pushed into the baths, throwing an exasperated look over her shoulder before the door is closed behind her.

In truth, she doesn’t mind. As she undresses, kicking her uniform aside and stepping into the still deliciously warm bathwater, she thinks to herself that this is a small price to pay for being able to come home to this. She stretches her aching body beneath the water and reaches for the soap, smiling when she rubs it between her palms and the delicate scent of lavender wafting to her nose. A small reminder of Sara’s thoughtful kindness; she remembers how much Mila likes the scent and makes sure to keep the baths stocked with this soap as much as possible.

It’s the simple things, Mila thinks as she washes. The simple, intimate things that might go overlooked if she didn’t pay attention.

Mila knows should give just about anything to have this; lavender soap and welcome home kisses and terse evenings at her wife’s brother’s estate. There’s nothing more she could ever want.