A knock on the door downstairs interrupts them just as he finishes loosening the back of her dress. He’d already changed out of his clothes and into sleep pants and his robe so he leaves her alone to go and answer the door.
She gets out of her dress and necklace and exchanges them for her nightwear and the warmest robe she has, tying it tightly, Not bothering to undo the complicated sets of braids that are woven together behind her back. What she does do is tend to the dying fire and put more wood on it, watching till the wood catches.
It’s only then that she goes around to her side of the bed and notices a long shallow box on the floor.
It isn’t wrapped, trapped, or locked. Carefully lifting the lid she smiles at the contents. In the bright light of the room, she can clearly see that the box is full of exploding arrows, over twenty, each more perfect than the last. To one side of the box, a stack of papers, maybe forty sheets, wrapped together in brown paper. Picking that up she replaces the lid and gets off the floor.
Getting comfortable on their bed she lays down and takes off the brown paper and lets it fall to the floor, leaving the stack of papers in her hand.
The first sheet only has writing on one side, from what she can see the rest have writing on both sides
This began as a list of ring engraving ideas because if you agreed and time was on our side I was always going to get to give you three rings, but it quickly became something else.
What I hold dearest is you
My home, my place is at your side.
You’re my favorite
Unity and a New Dawn
You’ve Earned This and so Much More
For inspiration: how Cassandra described us while drunk, “You are adorably, disgustingly, and shamelessly in love with each other.”
This love is more than I ever dreamed.
Found a complete jewelers kit, I can get to work on your signet ring now.
My Queen of Light
I wouldn’t have any of this without you
I wouldn’t want any of this without you
Our love makes us stronger.
Our aim is -Puns, no puns on your rings
My dearest lady, my wife, Vex
After I died the first time there was a split second where I thought about crowding you against one of the research tables in the library and just seeing what would happen. Thank you for showing me how wonderful that would have been. Needs continuous testing.
Your name is earned -No
I can see you becoming more comfortable here by the day.
My Heart, Vex’ahlia, My Love Unity and a New Dawn
is yours (Common), is yours (Celestial), is yours (Elvish).
My Dearest Wife, Lady Vex’ahlia de Rolo -That last bit is good.
I’m sorry Vex, I was wrong.
You make this little whimper noise sometimes when you’re so relieved that we’re about to kiss. I’m not sure you even know you’re doing it. I love it.
You said something incredibly smart today at dinner and all I could do after was look at you. I don’t think anyone else at the table noticed.
There’s a way you look at me sometimes, like I’m your prey, and I’m never sure if I should be terrified, nervous, or excited. Depending on the context, mostly excited.
You care so much, but you need to know that we’re going to do this together.
You are pure treasure. -No
Let’s treasure every minute for the rest of our lives. -Better
You’re in Syngorn right now, presumably showing those Elven asses just how brilliant you are, and I just miss you. I’ve been sleeping on your side of the bed.
I miss you in every way but I’d settle for your hand in mine, your head on my shoulder, and your voice filling my ears, telling me of your journey.
My heart is yours. My soul -My soul can’t be yours, I don’t want you to have to fight for it. I will fix this.
Tary said we were snoring in the library at the same rhythm today. You were really something last night by the way. It’s very good to have you home.
We keep each other alive…
Last night you cried so much when I told you that it would be only about three more weeks of work on your house. You were so happy.
I like it when you shake. The feeling of being next to you for all of it, of being there for you, being right there with you.
The look of relief on your face when I told the council that for obvious reasons I would never be able to consider any alliances or trade agreements that include a marriage proposal. Vex, I would do a lot of things for our city but I’d never do that to you, to us.
So I found out today that the staff absolutely adores you and misses you now that you have moved. I’m not surprised in the least, I miss you too.
I’m sorry I didn’t realize that you were asking me to move in with you.
You’re much too wonderful for an idiot
After close to ten different tries I have a signet ring for you that I’m satisfied with, now if only I could settle on the engraving.
The loveliest Grand Mistress
The most wonderful love
True Protector, Beacon of Pelor’s Light, The Grand Mistress Unity and a New Dawn
My Love is Yours (Common), My Soul is Yours (Celestial), My Heart is Yours (Elvish)
Vex, My Love, My Dearest Lady, My Wife
My Soul is Yours, that will be true. Everything else is, that will be too.
Your laugh, Vex, I want to be the one to make you laugh forever.
Archie pointed at you while you were walking down the path to the city and said, “You really should marry her, you both deserve everything you can give to each other.” That’s what I couldn’t stop smiling about when I caught up to you.
You just intimidated half of the council, it was delightful to watch.
I can look around Whitestone and see specific things that are better just because of you.
There’s no proper etiquette for giving the woman you love a ring that isn’t an engagement ring. I’ve checked, there's nothing in all of the etiquette books. I’m going to mess this up.
It’s nice to know you would have said yes if I was asking. I really didn’t mean for that to happen. I’m sorry.
I am glad that we agree that it is too soon for that though.
You are so smart, their faces Vex. Syngorn didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect that.
I admit the bakery is a much better idea than I originally thought.
If time allows us, I think I’ll show you this right before I put the third ring on your finger, no, right after, when I can call you wife.
There are moments when I swear you can still see the broken boy you saved from that cage and I love you for that because it means you remember the moment I started falling for you.
I don’t thank the gods for much but I do thank them for making our paths collide.
Starting to tear up, she only makes it through the first five sides before she can’t help but flip to the last pages. She almost started there but she’s glad she didn’t because now she knows what this is. Pages full of little love notes. Years of the little things that went through his head about them, about her, that he’s carefully written down and had planned to show her today
Looking at her hands, at her rings, the two he gave her and the one he exchanged for one of his own only hours ago, she’s so delighted that everything has happened like this.
The last page is double sided as well and she starts reading the side before that page starts.
You are brilliant, clever, just the most amazing. Sweet Pelor, you are so smart.
Thank you for taking me with you to Wildmount so I could watch you explain exactly where we stand when it comes to negotiating marriages involving our currently unconceived children. They were so frightened by the time you finished.
I really didn’t know what to do after that, you were so enraged but you certainly had ideas, wow, I was not expecting that.
Whenever it happens you’re going to be an unbelievably good mother, you care so much Vex.
I think that we’re the best versions of ourselves when we’re with each other.
You just took my ring off the work bench and I know what you’re doing with it which means I really should work on this.
A whiskey and two hours later this is what I have so far.
Vex, I do promise to be true to you. To love, honor, cherish, desire, respect, and obey you
until one of us is really dead this time for as long as I’m capable of remembering this life. I hope it’s forever.
That’s not enough though, after what we’ve been through and what we’ve done and seen, so much more than that is required. We took down five dragons together, watched each other die and come back, and helped each other heal, and all of that happened before we were even together. Since then, well, many worse things have happened but somehow we’re here, we get this chance. We’re so lucky.
I’ll be at your side battling, with words or weapons, whenever you want me there. If ever you fall again I’m going to find a cleric because you don’t get to die in battle. You die years and years from now, surrounded by family that cares about you, in a home that is yours, knowing that you are respected and loved. If I do anything truly good with the rest of this life it will be making that happen for you.
I want to make sure you know how incredible you really are, so you believe it, so you have no doubts in yourself.
Dear, I’m here for you, for everything and more. Your laugh delights me and because it makes you laugh I promise that I’m never going to stop flirting with you badly. Besides, I think it is fun too and I know you find it charming.
Thank you for suggesting we do this because traditional vows would not be enough.
So we have to use the traditional vows. It’s probably for the best, my own were a little sad in the middle and I wasn’t even finished yet. You’ll get to read them anyway.
I am sorry that Cassandra put her foot down on you caring a bouquet with a few arrows in it, it would have been perfect.
It only costs me 20 gold to make an exploding arrow now.
So further explanation, it will make you happy to know that in the process of making your wedding present I have managed to bring the cost of each exploding arrow down from 30 gold to 20 gold. There’s only going to be twenty-two in the box but there are two more in various states in the workshop. I didn’t finish in time, your other wedding present took more time than anticipated.
I know I gave you the bracelet last night with a small explanation but here’s the truth, I used all of the platinum from the discarded versions of all your three rings to make it. The metal I worked with is forgiving, if I never told you, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I melted down all of those failures and made something truly beautiful. The metal didn’t lose its purpose, it found a new one, just like I found a new purpose, a new and better life with you.
It is less than an hour before I become your husband
I love you madly,
Tears are running down her cheeks by the time she finishes reading, he’s always been so good at remembering things that matter to them, bits from the very beginning that meant so much at the time and still do.
Thankfully she has a few minutes to herself before she can hear him coming up the stairs, then walking toward their room steadily.
She hadn’t been cold when she finished reading but slowly the chill comes back. It won’t matter for long, Percy is always warm.
“Vex, did you get to have any of the cake? Your brother brought over two slices for us just in case.” His voice gets louder the closer he gets.
“He said that when he left the castle Trinket was in the courtyard happily being used as a fort for a few children,” opening the door she’d left ajar and stepping into the room, he’s caring a tray with a few things on it, he stops speaking when he sees her then adds, “they’re having a snowball fight.”
He’s looking at her with wide eyes as the smell of fresh coffee melds with the smoke of the fire and quickly hits her nose and she finds herself unable to speak.
Following where his eyes move she watches as he notices the single piece of paper that’s still in her hand, smiling he says, “You skipped to the last pages.”
Nodding, she watches him close the door and cross the room. He puts the tray filled with cake and cups down on his nightstand and sits next to her with one leg over the edge of their bed.
Gathering her up in his arms into a sitting position, he wipes away what was left of her tears. She leans into the contact, a hand on his smooth cheek. She welcomes him and his warmth and meets him in the middle for a kiss.
When they part she’s breathless, all she can get out on an exhale is a quiet, “My husband,” while gripping onto him to keep herself upright.
“Yes,” he answers back with a nod before bringing her back in toward his lips.
Breaking their kiss too soon he looks over at the papers, then at her, and asks hesitantly, “What did you read? How far did you get?”
She pulls out the pages she’s read and shows it to him. What strikes her is not what she’s holding but what’s still left, there is still so much she needs to read.
Acknowledging her with a hum into her hair, the hold he has on her around her waist tightens slightly and she can hear the grin on his face, “Those are good pages, you missed my proposal notes though, they start somewhere closer to the middle. You know I almost changed the engraving on your engagement ring at the last moment, that’s all in there.”
He kisses her hair and she lifts her head to look at him. His words suddenly reminding her of something. His grin falls at the serious look on her face as she watches him. He probably hasn’t read it yet, he has to see.
Letting go of her, she stays where she is, but he gets even closer and whispers in a concerned voice, “Are you all right?”
Taking his left hand she nods and she takes the ring off his finger slowly, her eyes never leaving his. He stops breathing while the ring is being taken off.
She holds it in her hand in front of him and says, “You need to read it.”
He squints at her and then the ring a little before taking it from her, rolling it between his thumb and pointer fingers to read it slowly.
The engraving is small even on his thicker wedding band, it had to be so everything would fit. She had a master engraver in Emon who uses magic do it to keep it a surprise.
He looks at her when he’s done, moisture forming at the corners of his eyes. “Vex…”
It’s all he can say before she interrupts.
“You had an advantage with this, love, you had three rings to engrave, I had to fit it all on one,” she says with a smile while taking the ring back from him and not letting go of his warm hand. She quickly reads it to herself.
My Darling Husband Is A Better Man Than He Believes
He Is A Good Man
I Love Him
It’s written out as plainly as she could make it. A constant reminder of who he is to her when she’s not around to say it or to help him feel it. It’s how she thinks about her rings, they’re always there reminding her of him, of how he feels, what they’ve been through, who they are.
She kisses the shrapnel scar that’s on his finger, just over where his ring sits before slipping it back on his finger for a second time today. He looks at it there afterward, a strange look on his face.
Taking him from his thoughts she says, “Our rings tell the truth, that’s your rule.”
Smiling at her, he replies with confidence, “I am a good man.”
He can see it in himself now, the good, what she’s alway seen. Smiling she gets his attention by putting a hand on some of the papers and saying, “You are Percy and those vows were…”
Interrupting her he asks with a laugh, “Too much?” She’s able to see the doubt forming in his mind and on his face while he neatens up the papers beside them.
Shaking her head she replies sincerely, “No, they’re just lovely. I… thank you.” The look he gives her lets her know that he understands.
“I intend to keep those vows too,” he says as he takes the papers and reaches around her to put them on her nightstand. It’s then that she really notices it, the warmth radiating off him.
When he rights himself she runs her hands through his hair before slipping her fingers under the collar of his robe.
Reacting to the cold on his neck he winces and pulls her closer and asks, “Are you cold?”
Like he doesn’t already know the answer. She nods and he laughs.
“Really, in all of those layers?” His question is a joke but she goes along with it for now.
Shaking her head she says, “I don’t know what you think I have on under this but it’s not much.” She watches as he looks at her and tries to figure out what she could be wearing under the robe. It’s probably not the first time he’s tried to look but it is possibly the first time he’s really questioned if she was clothed at all, which she is. He probably assumed she wasn’t.
His hand goes for the ties to her robe and she takes it before he can get there, in a low voice she says, “If I take it off you’re going to have to warm me up slowly.” It’s really the only way she’d like to start this.
What's funny in this moment is that while he says that she looks at him like prey, which admittedly she does do sometimes, right now all she can see is a similar look on his face. He’s concentrating on her. His eyes are trained on hers. He licks his lips just once, slowly, so she can’t help but think about how nice they’ll feel on her body, and what he’ll do to her with them.
The anticipation of it is nice but only for a moment.
Taking his hands in hers, together they undo the ties of his robe first, she pulls it off him and tosses it over to the foot of the bed, while his hands find the ties of her robe, pulling them loose. She’s fast enough to open it slowly before he can open it all at once.
The whimper he lets out at what he sees is a mixture of surprise and an eagerness that she will acknowledge as something she was hoping to hear when he saw her in this.
The short slip stops at her mid thigh, made of a lace so thin it shows off her body so well and doesn’t actually cover anything. She’d been pleased to find a garment of any kind in his favorite shade of blue, let alone one like this. The second she saw it she knew she would purchase it, if only for this moment, so she could revel in his every reaction.
She’s able to read the question on his face and before he can ask it she says, “Ank’Harel, the last time we were there, right before we came home. I was saving it for this,” she admits with color rising on her cheeks.
Reaching to shift her robe off one shoulder, he takes his glasses off and breathes in deeply, practically burrowing his face into her neck. After a moment he moans into her neck and she notices that his hand is in his sleep pants.
She’s so pleased, based on his reaction this was a very good idea. As casually as she can muster she asks, “Are you all right darling?” Nodding into her neck is his response.
He groans and she asks, “You know I love you?” He nods again and mumbles it back into her neck.
Pleased, she starts taking the robe off completely but he stops her before she’s worked her arms out of the sleeves.
“Vex,” he says while pulling it back up her arms and shaking his head, “not yet, let me look at you.”
Putting his glasses back on he shifts away and really looks at her from top to bottom. Moving suddenly she decides to give him a better view by laying down, getting her arms out of the robe and shifting her legs so he’ll end up right where she wants him.
His eyes go wide and she waits almost a minute before extending a hand out to him. He takes it and moves so he’s now kneeling between her legs, practically on top of her, he presses a small kiss to her forehead. When he kisses her lips he takes his hand back and drags his fingers along her neck, sliding over her shoulder, and then down her arm. He places his other hand near the side of her head for balance, his fingers curl into her braided hair as they both intensify the kiss.
Rising against him, he almost loses his balance and he leans away just a little. His warmth leaves too and she can feel the change in temperature immediately.
Asking her slowly, “You said you wanted me to warm you up?”
She nods quickly, the tips of they’re noses brushing, and she says, “Very slowly.”
“I don’t know how slow I’ll be able to go,” he says sincerely before he gets up off of her. His hands move steadily down her sides over the lace, the skin of his fingers are rough but they don’t catch on the fabric even as he reaches the bunched up bottom hem.
Once his fingers are past the fabric and on her skin what previously felt like deliberate warm touches loose all focus. They run along the outside of her legs, which is not where she wants them.
His head, well his mouth, in particular, is in a much more interesting position. Never breaking eye contact, he places hot breathy kisses down her entire body, whispering in celestial as he goes. He’s just above where she wants him when she reaches for his hands. Taking his left, her thumb presses onto his ring and he pauses.
Lifting his head he says, “We’re married,” softly with a smile on his face so wide. His look warms her right through.
Nodding she does her best to pull him back to her into a kiss.
Holding his face in her hands she whispers, with an equally large smile on her face, “Yes we are."