He placed a soft kiss on her head and then settled the infant back inside the ancient, wooden cradle. Medraut smiled as the late afternoon sun caught a glimmer of the red curls just beginning to grow on the tiny head. His chest ached and he clenched his jaw. He knew he would not live to see her full grown. He hovered in silence over the cradle as he filled his gaze with the sight of her.
In the courtyard below he could hear his soldiers as they prepared for battle.
He hurried across the room just as his wife threw open the narrow door to their private chambers. He glimpsed her tear stained face for only a moment before her body crashed into him. She buried her face against his armored chest.
Someone told her.
“Anewyn, my dear.” Medraut wrapped his arms around her. “Do not weep for me.” He inhaled her scent as he rested his chin on top of her head. His body responded to her but he pushed the thought away. His young wife was still pale from the loss of blood during their daughter’s birth. He would slack his body’s needs with one of the willing whores that followed the army when it marched.
“Do not weep!” Anewyn pulled away. “You are my husband! You are Meredithe’s father!” Medraut smiled as the fury and passion that flashed wildly in Anewyn’s deep blue eyes washed over him.
“Ane, love, our life together has not been easy.” He tightened his hold around her when she tried to back away. She shook her head as if to deny the truth.
“I can be a better wife for you.” Anewyn whispered. Medraut felt as if his own body were being split down the middle.
“Hush, love,” Medraut commanded in gentle tones.
Anewyn had been little more than a child when her Father approached him. The old knight had no sons and he did not trust the King with his only daughter’s future. He needed a strong man with a deep understanding of the Old Ways to shelter the girl. Anewyn’s father offered Medraut a castle and lands in the north if he would wed the girl and protect her.
“Our fate was sealed long before our paths crossed, Ane.” He tangled his hand into the loose black curls that cascaded down her back and tilted her head back.
“Medraut,” Anewyn whimpered, fresh tears pooled in her eyes.
“No matter what, Meredithe must be protected.” He held her, his gaze capturing hers with authority.
“You’ve had another vision?” Anewyn demanded as she struggled to break his hold on her.