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Surrender And Certainty

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Welcome Home

 

2009
St Andrews, Scotland

Claire looked up from her book as she heard the keys in the front door. She heard the familiar sound of Icelandic swearing - "Ríða, skít, andskotinn" - and some fumbling around with bags rustling; she couldn't restrain her grin as she watched Sören walk in with the keyring in his teeth, two shopping bags in either hand. Even though he'd been gone less than two hours, she wanted to leap up, rush to him, and throw her arms around him, and silently cursed that her body wasn't quite ready for that. Not yet.

Other things, though, she was ready for, and able to do now. Slowly but surely, she had been making more progress.

It was to be their first night in their new home. They'd bought the fixer-upper on the Harbour of St Andrews with some of their "rainy day fund" three weeks into their stay in Scotland, not wanting to burden Sören's aunt Gitta and her wife Jane even though they swore up and down that hosting the couple was no trouble. They'd had to buy furniture, which the movers had delivered in stages, and not all of it was here yet - the king-sized four-poster bed was upstairs, and the sturdy oak kitchen table and chairs were set up, but they were still debating couches and other items for the lounge. In the meantime, Claire was propped up on a pile of pillows. They'd spent the day unpacking, though they'd only made a dent in all that needed to be unpacked, boxes everywhere across the house; Sören had insisted Claire take a break while he ran to the supermarket to pick up something for dinner. He'd wanted to get takeaway or take her out to dinner and give her a break altogether, but she in turn had insisted that she wanted to break in their new home properly with a home-cooked meal.

She wanted to break it in properly in other ways; as she'd been reading, her thoughts kept straying to the new bed. Part of their motivation for moving out of Gitta's sooner rather than later had been wanting to freely make noise again.

Sören was wearing jean shorts and his frequently-worn Joy Division T-shirt, dark curls tied up in a loose man bun to cope with the August heat, revealing the two small silver rings in each ear. The black glittery nail polish he wore sparkled as he pulled up the dark sunglasses and Claire smiled at the love shining in his dark eyes. Even dressed down, he was delicious to her, especially for being a little sweaty. She thought about him glistening under the shirt and a shiver went down her spine.

He kicked off his black Doc Martens boots, leaving them by the door to not trudge dirt through the house. Claire stood up gingerly. "You want help with those bags -?"

"I got it," Sören said, walking ahead to the kitchen.

Claire followed behind him, smoothing her ocean-hued broomstick skirt, and watched him unload the groceries on the counter. He'd gotten salmon, knowing how much she loved it - of course he liked it too, growing up in Iceland - and the makings for a salad. He'd picked up some essentials like bread, milk, and eggs, orange juice, sausages for tomorrow morning, a package of cheese, and for snacks, baby carrots and a bag of salt-and-vinegar crisps. She smiled as he took out fresh strawberries and a can of whipped cream, and took the can to put in the fridge.

"I can make the salad if you work on the salmon," Claire told him.

"Jæja, are you sure?" Sören raised an eyebrow.

She gave him a playful whack on the elbow. "Sören, I need to start doing things again. Please."

"OK." Sören leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. "I just worry about you, is all. I want to take care of you."

"I know, and you do. But some of taking care of me means letting me push myself sometimes too." She planted a soft kiss on his full lips, and then a second later almost regretted it because a chaste, innocent kiss became anything but, with their tongues meeting, swirling together, his fingers walking down her spine. Her breath hitched and she shuddered against him, melting to him. She had already gotten herself worked up thinking about him while he was out, and now...

Sören started kissing her neck. She moaned, and seized his face to claim his mouth again. They pulled apart a moment later, breathing hard.

"I'm proud of you, you know." Sören twined a stray lock of her strawberry blonde hair around his finger. "You're a fighter, and it's one of the things I love about you."

"I love you too. Now we better get to work and no more hanky-panky, you."

Sören waggled his eyebrows at her, making her laugh out loud. He turned on the tap and she watched as he splashed cold water on his face, rubbed it into his beard - despite his intolerance of summer heat, he wouldn't shave his facial hair, but she liked him better with it anyway, remembering him as a clean-shaven, short-haired nineteen-year-old med student and when she'd seen him again two years later, hair and beard grown out, looking dangerous and sexy. He looked like a rock star without being one, right down to the ink and piercings. She watched him splash water onto his arms now, both covered in sleeve tattoos, flames on one, ocean waves on the other. After taking down his hair, shaking his curls loose and sprinkling water into that, he was good to start washing his hands and set to work on the salmon fillet.

Claire turned on the stereo so they could have music as they worked in the kitchen. They were both born in 1984, and their parents had raised them with music from the 1960s and 70s and early 80s - one of Claire's favorite stories from Sören's past was one of the few happy memories he had of childhood, his late mother Brynhildur Jónsdóttir singing "Stairway to Heaven" as a lullaby. So it was a classic rock station they listened to now, with Sören singing along in his husky, soulful tenor and lovely, lilting accent to Kenny Loggins.

The waiting is over, no, don't you run
No way to hide
No time for wonderin' why
It's here, the moment is now, about to decide
Let 'em believe
Leave 'em behind
But keep me near in your heart
Know whatever you do
I'm here by your side

(You say that maybe it's over)
(Not if you don't want it to be)
For once in your life
Here's your miracle
Stand up and fight

(This is it)
Make no mistake where you are
(This is it)
You're goin' no further
(This is it)
Until it's over and done


Claire had bought a spice rack when they went furniture shopping earlier in the week, stocking up on a professional-quality selection of herbs and spices. Sören was properly impressed - he liked to make jokes about how Icelanders considered food "heavily spiced" if there was dill in sour cream, and that "fermentation is not a spice". He liked seasonings, and he especially liked heat in his food, the degree of heat surprising and amusing to her considering where he came from and his dislike of hot weather. He was adding some kick to the salmon now, though she knew he was restraining it for her sake - there was pleasantly piquant and then there was her jokes about Sören being part-dragon. He knew where her tolerance was, well below his, and it was one of the many ways he showed he cared for her, making the spice more to her taste. 

All of the little things, added up so much.

As he prepped the salmon, Claire washed and chopped lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes. There were olives and goat cheese to add to the salad, and a vinaigrette dressing. Claire turned up the music when "Leather and Lace" by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley came on. She sang Stevie Nicks's part in her contralto, with Sören singing Don Henley's part, and the two sang together on the chorus:

Lovers forever
Face to face
My city your mountains
Stay with me stay
I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather
Take from me
My lace


Sören stole another kiss at the end of the song, and Claire was starting to ache now, nipples hard, feeling slick heat in her knickers, tempted to tell him to hell with dinner and drag him upstairs. But instead she watched with admiration in her eyes as he bent over, his firm bubble butt sticking out at her as he put the fish on the broiler. It wouldn't be long now.

Claire leaned against him while the fish cooked, tossing the salad, throwing in the olives and cheese at the end, drizzling the vinaigrette. She didn't need the support for standing, but the feel of him against her was comforting.

And arousing. She glanced at him, and he crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. It took her every ounce of her restraint to not slam him against the wall, pin his wrists and kiss him deep, wondering what it would be like for him to take her on the kitchen counter.

Not very sanitary for food prep, probably. But it was a nice thought. Sören got dishes down from the cupboard, and then he strode out of the kitchen for a moment. She wondered what he was doing - probably getting some air, since the kitchen was getting hotter with the broiler going - and when the timer rang, he came back.

Sören took out the fillet of fish from the broiler and cut it up, loading it onto plates, with some remaining on the tray for seconds or leftovers. He brought the plates and utensils out to the table, Claire following behind with the large salad bowl in one hand, and two smaller serving bowls in the other.

When she approached the kitchen table, her breath caught. Sören had been lighting candles out here. He'd also managed to sneak a bottle of Auchentoshan in with his groceries, which she smiled at the sight of.

"I'll get the shot glasses," Sören said, putting a hand on her shoulder as he walked past.

The sun was starting to set, and the view of the light from the Harbour made it all especially romantic. Sören came back with shot glasses, regular glasses, and a pitcher of ice water. He sat down across from Claire and as if on cue, "Your Song" by Elton John came on the radio.

It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside
I'm not one of those who can easily hide
I don't have much money, but boy if I did
I'd buy a big house where we both could live


"Well, we did that," Sören said, laughing softly. He poured the Auchentoshan, and passed Claire her glass, holding his out. They clinked glasses, and Sören sipped his whisky thoughtfully, swirling it around.

"This is lovely," Claire said, gesturing to the lit candles. "You're lovely."

"You're lovely." Sören's eyes crinkled at the corners. "I wanted to spoil you a little."

"You spoil me all the time." Claire tried a bite of her salmon. "Oh god, this is good."

Sören smiled.

"How was the walk?" Claire asked between bites.

"Hot."

Claire laughed and kicked him under the table. "I know that, silly. I mean... how was it. You're finding your way around now?"

Sören nodded. "I took a little detour on the way there, looked at the sea for awhile. There was some guy with a guitar sitting there, playing." He bit his lower lip, his cheeks flushing.

"Yeah, was he cute?"

"Fuck, he was hot." Sören's blush deepened.

Claire loved that she had someone who she could ogle attractive men with. Before their relationship began Claire assumed Sören was exclusively gay, which wasn't entirely untrue - Claire was the first and only woman he'd been attracted to and intimate with. These days, he would call himself bisexual, and they had a deal when their relationship started that Sören could date men if she met them and approved, but over the last three years Sören hadn't been with anyone but her. There had been a flirtation before the accident, but the man didn't want to deal with Sören's emotional state or his constant vigilance of Claire through the whole ordeal; Claire still felt a little guilty about it, even though Sören assured her up and down it was fine. He hadn't expressed interest in or attraction to anyone but her since the accident, though; finally mentioning he'd seen an attractive man was a sign things were getting back to normal.

"Long dark hair," Sören went on. "Tall, too, from the looks of him, though he was sitting down."

Before their relationship started, Claire's sexual fantasies about Sören often involved him with that very type, not that she ever mentioned it to him. She looked down at her food, not wanting to get her hopes up about getting to see her fantasy become a reality. "Did you talk to him?"

"Ha ha no." Sören sipped on his whisky. "You know how I get with strangers. Even if I'd felt less shy, I felt like he was too pretty for me to talk to. And his music was sure pretty. Was worth spending a few extra minutes in the heat."

"That's good, at least."

A few more minutes passed, with them working on their meal, and Sören asked, "How's your book?"

"Heavy." She was re-reading the Silmarillion. "I feel like I find new things every time I go back."

"Someday I should read that. I never read anything but the Lord of the Rings trilogy, of his."

Claire nodded. "Well, consider it yours to borrow." They had been living together for four years now - the first several months as just roommates - but now they felt even more enmeshed.

"Aw, takk."

"It'll be nice to get the rest of my books unpacked. It's nice to be able to read again, even if I have to do it in shorter stints than I was used to." She used to be able to read for hours without a problem, now she was lucky to be able to read fifteen to twenty minutes at a time without needing a break. But even that, following her head injury, was progress.

"It's nice to see you reading. I wanted to cry when I got in and saw you."

Claire felt the urge to throw down her fork, come over and hug him tight, but she didn't. She helped herself to another bowl of salad as well, and then she refilled Sören's dish while she had the tongs in her hand. He thanked her. It wasn't just convenience or kindness, though, she looked at her steady hand, feeling accomplished.

Bit by bit. There was something else she wanted to try tonight, too.

Sören dug into more salad. "I think I'll want to unpack my art supplies tonight or tomorrow, get the studio set up." Their house had three bedrooms, though they only needed one, and one of the spares was being turned into Sören's art room.

"Oh, brilliant. I can't wait to see you get back into painting."

"I'm feeling inspired again." He hadn't been painting much in the months following the accident. His voice husked then as he said, "You inspire me. I'd like to paint you, now that your hair is back to its natural color again."

"Oh, Sören." Claire felt her face flush.

"It's not that you weren't pretty with the platinum blonde hair but god, I love your natural color. I never understood why you felt the need to dye it in the first place."

"Because of all the shit I got for being a ginger, I thought it would look more professional for a law career."

Sören snorted. "I've wanted to be supportive, but Claire, I am so glad you're done with that. I could see the way it was eating at you and it hurt."

"I know. And I really appreciate that you tried to look after me when I was so stressed out, without trying to control me and tell me to get out of it." Claire frowned. "As much as I hate having been through all... that..." She meant the accident. "I have to admit, it's almost a blessing in disguise, to be on a different track for my life now. I just wish I knew what." She sighed.

"You'll figure it out. It's not like we need money in the meantime."

"No, but it's not really about the money. It's about a sense of purpose."

"I suppose. But it's OK to just chill and enjoy yourself for awhile too, y'know? I want to see you happy."

"You make me happy, Sören." She meant it.

They finished dinner. Claire started to get up, and Sören put a hand up. "I'll take care of dishes and wrap up the leftover fish," he said. "You want dessert?"

I want you for dessert. "Sure."

He brought out strawberries and whipped cream, and moved the candles out to the lounge, where they sat on the pile of pillows together, the candles glowing golden against the blue light of twilight, feeding each other strawberries, licking and sucking the juices and cream off each other's fingers. When Claire bit into a particularly juicy one and the juice trailed down her chin and neck, Sören licked it, and she moaned, then moaned again as he kissed her, stroking her face, her hair. His fingers wandered down to rest on her breast, thumbing the hard nipple through the gauzy fabric of her cream poet's blouse.

Claire put the last strawberry in his mouth and she bit off the tip, and then after it was gone they kissed again, before Sören sprayed a little whipped cream onto his fingers and stuck them in Claire's mouth, groaning appreciatively as he watched her lips wrap around them and she worked her head back and forth, fingers gliding in and out of her mouth like it was a smaller version of his cock. Claire smiled at the tent forming in his jean shorts.

Then her smile became a gasp as Sören sprayed whipped cream in the cleft between her breasts, licking it off, continuing to lick there even after the cream was gone, before moving his face up to rub his tongue against hers, and he kissed her again, deeply. He started kissing her neck, his voice raspy with desire. "Ég vil sleikja þig um allt."

Claire's breath hitched. He knew exactly how to get her going, making her twinge and ache again, wanting him. "Oh god, Sören."

He kissed her mouth again, tongue more insistent this time, before trailing kisses along her jaw, resuming kissing her neck, licking, nibbling. "Ég vil að safarnir þínar dreypi. Ég mun borða þig þar til þú biður mig um að hætta." Fingers rubbing a nipple through her shirt in lazy circles, kissing back up her neck, kissing around her mouth. "þú ert að fara að koma aftur og aftur."

"God..." Claire shivered.

"Mér líkar grillaðan ost."

Claire narrowed her eyes and glared at him, though she wasn't actually angry, and she was used to it by now. She gave him a playful smack on his arm. "You're such an idiot."

Sören's laughter rang out. "I couldn't help it, elskan. I love it when you make that face at me." He kissed the tip of her nose, then he kissed her mouth again. "Not as much as I love making you come, though."

"So... are we going to break in the new bed?"

"Mmmmm." Sören got up. "Whipped cream in the fridge first... then, yes."

After he put away the whipped cream, he carried the candles upstairs, then he came down to help her up the steps if she needed it, walking behind her. "Easy does it," he said softly. The sound of his voice, low and sexy like that, and the feeling of his warm breath on the back of her neck, how safe she felt with him - it was all making her quiver, but she managed to make it up the stairs, and when they stood at the top, Sören took her in his arms and kissed her.

She started shoving him back towards the bedroom, kissing him back hard and hungry, hands already fumbling with his belt.

"Well," Sören said, laughing, "someone's horny -"

Claire slammed him against the wall of their bedroom, yanking down his shorts, and then his boxer-briefs, wrapping her hand around the now-free cock, standing at attention for her. Her fingers walked down it, then slid back up, gently rubbing the frenulum; she smiled as he shivered. She drew his lower lip between hers - god, she loved his lips - and sucked on it a little before she whispered, "I want to ride you."

Cowgirl was Sören's favorite position, and one they hadn't done since the accident - she'd lay on her back and he'd taken care of her. Which was still nice, but tonight... "I want to ride you like a wild bull," she said, yanking up his T-shirt.

Then she slipped out of her own clothes, Sören running his hands over her, finally lingering to cup her breasts, thumbs rubbing the nipples. His breath caught at the sight of her; she loved that sound. 

He tenderly took her face in his hands, and kissed her back. He let out a little whimper as her fingers continued rubbing the sweet spot on his cock, and she hooked a finger through the Prince Albert ring in the head. "I want you to fuck me hard," she said.

Sören shuddered. "Jesus, Claire. Are you sure...?"

"Yes. I want this. I need this." She kissed his neck. "I need you."

With her free hand, she guided his hand between her legs, letting him feel how drenched she was, and they hadn't even started. Sören's eyes widened, and he kissed her again, breathing harder. "Claire."

"I'm so wet for you."

Sören gave her a naughty grin. "Hi so wet for you -"

Claire swatted his ass hard, and Sören laughed, and turned around, wiggling his ass at her so she could smack the other cheek. She did, and then she dragged him over to the bed. "You," she said, shoving him down on the bed, climbing over him. "Brat."

"Mmmmm." Sören leaned up to kiss her. "You love it."

"Arse." Claire tweaked his nose.

"You love that, too."

"You know..."

"I know." Sören nibbled on her.

"Your smart mouth is going to get that arse in trouble."

"I like being in trouble." Sören grinned.

"We should find something else for you to do with that mouth."

"I agree one hundred percent." With that, Sören's tongue slowly licked one of Claire's nipples. She gasped, shivering.

He spent the next while feasting on her nipples, licking, suckling, nibbling, fingers rubbing one while his mouth worked on the other. Every now and again he pulled her face down to kiss him, positioning himself so her nipples rubbed against his pierced nipples, making him groan into the kiss. After so many times of this she couldn't take it anymore and returned the favor, licking and sucking hard at one of his nipples as her fingers massaged the other, sometimes tugging gently at the ring. She found his nipple piercings incredibly sexy, not the least of which the way he responded when they were played with.

As she made love to his nipples, she rubbed against his thigh, and Sören finally moaned, "You are so fucking wet, elskan mín."

"I told you." She tugged a nipple with her teeth. "You make me fucking crazy."

"You make me crazy." Sören pulled her up to kiss him. Then he patted his shoulders. "You want to ride me, this is where you start."

Claire crawled up to sit on Sören's shoulders, already close to coming, feeling herself twitch just from his breath on her skin. He nuzzled her bush, breathing in the scent of her. "So sexy," he husked. He rained little kisses over her mound. "Kissed by fire."

"God, Sören..." She fisted his curls and whined.

He laughed gently into her, before taking his first lick. He lapped slowly, lovingly, then in earnest his fingers spread her folds and he dug in, loudly slurping and sipping at her juices as his tongue lashed her clit, and then he sucked on it, moaning "mmmm" as he sucked. The fingers of one hand played inside her, rubbing her G-spot, and she knew he was stroking himself with the other hand, which was such a turn-on, to know he wanted this as badly as she did. She was right on that edge, so close, so close, "oh god Sören just like that," and then before she could come, his lips let go and he began to lick very, very slowly, around her clit but not quite brushing it.

He loved teasing her like this, and she howled with frustration, even though she knew the more he teased, the harder she'd come when he gave in. And that was what he did, over and over again, slowly licking then licking harder and faster, sucking her clit until she was right there, backing off. The sound of her wetness as his fingers worked in her was deliciously obscene, and she was starting to thrust against his face, not able to help it. "Mmm, fuck my face," Sören purred before he dove back in, sucking her hard.

A few bucks and she screamed, contracting so hard it almost hurt, sobbing with relief as the delicious waves of pleasure throbbed and throbbed through her. Sören groaned as he watched her contractions, taking a few last slow licks at the juices gushing. "God, Claire."

"Mmmf." She shuddered, biting her lip.

But it didn't stop there. A minute later his tongue was on her clit again, knowing he could give her multiple orgasms when she was sensitive like this, as he'd done so many times before. He brought her to climax again and again, feverishly lapping and suckling, finally just shoving his tongue inside her and rubbing her clit with his fingers, and it was when she came like that, that she felt Sören jolt underneath her, could tell from his groaning and shivering that he'd brought himself off. She felt that surge of desire again, finding it incredibly hot that he loved doing this to her so much that it would make him come, too... knowing that he gave himself a release so he'd last longer when he was inside her.

She climbed off his shoulders and lay there on top of him for a few minutes, petting and nuzzling him as he came down. Then he kissed her, letting her taste herself on him. She moaned into the kiss, loving it. He brought his cum-soaked fingers to her mouth and watched with heat in his eyes as she sensually licked and sucked it off them, savoring the salty-sweet taste of him. She made a mental note that someday soon she'd like to suck him and taste more of it, but there would be time enough for that another night. She could feel him hardening again as he watched her licking and sucking his fingers, at last sucking on his thumb.

"Ástin mín." Sören's free hand stroked her face, played with her hair. "You want...?"

"I want." She rose up, and straddled his hips.

She was wet enough that he slid right in, groaning as he watched her wrap around him, taking him to the hilt. He rested in her for a moment, letting her get used to the fullness, and then she started to ride. Steady, not too hard, not too fast. Then a few minutes later, harder, grabbing onto him, her nails digging into his flesh.

"That's it, elskan." Sören gave a little growl. "Get it."

"Oh god, Sören..." She gasped as the captive bead ring in the head of his cock brushed her G-spot just the right way. And gasped again as his fingers strayed to rub her clit, the fingers of his other hand playing with her nipples.

"God, I love watching your tits as you ride me." He leaned up and latched onto a nipple with his mouth, making her throw her head back and cry out.

"Oh, Sören, fuck!" She grabbed his head, pulled on the curls.

Sören growled into her and started thrusting into her, after letting her set the pace. She matched his rhythm, bucking wildly on him, and his fingers pressed harder into her clit, rubbed faster.

"Oh fuck that's good that's good, fuck, Sören, fuck me..."

"I want you." Sören growled and nibbled on a nipple, before turning to the other one to lick and suckle. "Want you so. Fucking. Bad."

"Yes, yes... I want you, go-o-od, I want you..."

"You're so beautiful, riding me like this." Sören looked at her with worship in his eyes. "Ride me, my flamehaired Valkyrie."

She was so close. Their moans and cries echoed in the room, competing with the smack of their flesh, the deliciously lewd wet suctioning sound of him rocking away inside her. She kept riding, feeling victorious, that she was finally able to do this with him, that she was taking it back, her health, her life. It felt like each thrust inside her was opening something in her, opening a door to the future, and the light was shining in. His fire. The glow of the candles was almost unearthly, as she reached down to take his face in her hands, reflecting the same awe back at him as the way he was looking at her. "I love you."

"I love you, elskan. Falleg elskan mín, ég elska þig svo mikið."

The reverting to Icelandic just made it even hotter for her. She was right there, right there... "Don't stop don't stop don't you fucking stop..." As much as he loved to tease, as much as she loved this delicious moment of the blinding, fevered glory of sex, she needed to come. She needed him to come with her. She took his hands in hers, squeezing. "Sören, please, don't stop, don't stop..."

He squeezed her hands back. "Come with me, hjartað mitt."

"Sören!" There it was. It took her breath away, pulse after pulse, resounding joy, euphoria through her entire body. Her inner muscles milked him through his own orgasm, howling as he spent into her, and she shuddered again at the feeling of him spilling into her, loving that feeling of being claimed. I am my beloved's and he is mine.

She pulled him close to her, rocked him, and he wrapped his arms around her, rocking her too. They rocked and sobbed together, toes curling. "You did it," Sören said, holding her tight, kissing her shoulder.

"I did." Claire smiled through her tears. "I've been wanting to do that again for months -"

"I know. I mean, you know, it's good other ways. It's good any way, with you. But fuck, that was hot."

Claire did like it on her back, slow and sweet, sensual and languid - they'd spent many afternoons and evenings like that. But she had been hungering for this, for that raw, primal passion that made her feel like she was having a religious experience, a microcosm of the Big Bang itself as she exploded again and again with his love. She rested her head on his shoulder. "I love you, Sören."

"I love you." He kissed the top of her head, nuzzled her hair. "God, you're beautiful."

They lay there for awhile, holding each other. The candles burned down, and they were there in the glow of the nightlight and the moonlight. The sound of the sea was soothing, and Claire felt herself drift off a little.

Then Sören stirred her awake. "Gotta pee," he said.

She giggled like an overgrown child at that. She rolled over and he climbed off the bed, shuffling off to the bathroom. When he came back, she was stretching - she too had to take care of business - and he paused for a moment, concern in his eyes.

"Uh, Claire?" He raised an eyebrow. "You, ah, remembered to take the Pill today, right?"

She nodded. They'd dispensed with using condoms early on in their relationship, since it had been awhile for either of them and they tested clean. She was as habitual as taking her daily birth control as Sören was about taking his antidepressant medication, though she could understand the brief concern since the last few days had been so busy with the move. But the question still made her slightly uneasy, and she realized after a moment that it wasn't because Sören had asked, it was because the thought of what if she hadn't, seeing herself with a little tiny version of Sören or herself, made her ache just a little.

Them getting a house together, their house, not just a flat where they happened to both be on the lease, but something they owned, that was a huge step. And she wanted more. She wanted this. This entire life. Sören would be a great stay-at-home dad if she wanted to go back to school, for example. He already has the dad jokes down to a science.

But how to say that without scaring him away?

He opened his arms when she came back from the bathroom, and she crawled in to rest in them. One step at a time, we can figure that out later. For now, she contented herself with this moment, this night of hope after her world had shattered months ago. She was coming back to life, and things finally felt like they were going to be OK.