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She wakes to the sun in her face, her naked breasts exposed – the sheet having bunched at her waist in her sleep. Charles is half awake, his fingers lightly tracing patterns against her flesh in a matter so appreciative she could blush. Surprisingly, her lack of modesty does not inspire the same reaction.

She remembers their wedding night, when he had walked into the bedroom too soon, before she had a chance to don her nightgown, and she had gasped and held it against herself as though to cover those parts he would know soon enough. She had been modest then, not wanting to offend her new husband with her soft lines and faint scars; not wanting him to doubt his choice, despite the fact he had abandoned everything to be with her. Despite her being so sure in everything - except this, apparently.

She had been more timid; more conformed to her time, in complete contrast to him.

Leave it off, he had said with his hungry gaze boring into her, taking the gown slowly from her hands, running his palms from her wrists, softly up her arms, caressing her shoulders, weaving his hands into her loose, long hair. He had kissed her until she forgot her nakedness, and then laid her on the bed and made love to every inch of her body for hours and hours. She had never known passion like it, to stay awake all night with her pulse thrumming and her ears ringing full of his voice.

They now often sleep without bedclothes, the door locked against their housemates - convenient and so very intimate.

She wonders if she would be so bold had she not been married before; not had carnal knowledge before Charles swooned her into his heart and his bed and his impossible way of thinking. She supposes probably not. Her comfort in her body and her sexuality, reticent though it is in her time, comes from many years of tasting the flesh with her first husband, before Mary was born and for a short time after.

If she was a young woman getting married straight out of girlhood, with no idea of what to expect and no understanding of a wedding night, she thinks she would not feel so bold as to lounge in bed, bare to the world. Instead she had married late, and conceived even later. Her first two pregnancies were lost early; her doctors had all but written her off as infertile by the time she fell pregnant with Mary. So many of her peers had married young and started their broods immediately. Laura had waited for a good man to come along, and in Will she found him. A gentle man, who taught her his business and valued her opinion.

But this did not diminish her knowledge of passion and wanting. Will had been kind, but a simple lover - concerned with her pleasure if not particularly deft at delivering to it. She was content and happy, but never overwhelmed.

And then Charles... Charles proved to be on a level she had failed to even bring herself on lonely nights. His awareness of her needs and sweet spots would be uncanny, had he not explained briefly the female sexual revolution that was a lifetime away- the expectation of reciprocity. She had laughed at the absurdity of it, the same way she had scoffed at him in the restaurant over lunch; the same way she laughs at so many of his strange and wonderful ideas. Her peak is to him as important as his own; his desire only increased by her low moans and keens of ecstasy. She thanks the women who are yet to come for their surprising gift to her.

So indeed, lying naked before him, the sun streaming through their curtains, feels as natural as breathing. She does not blush under his sleepy stare, or shy away from his tender and unassuming touch. Her nipples half peak as his finger traces the outer curve of her breast, but it is revelling, not suggestive; something else she was not used to before Charles. She's never had anyone just lie there and worship her before. 

She looks him in the eye with a smile. A curl of arousal ripples through her belly.

"Good morning" she whispers. Her elbow resting next to him bends, the backs of her fingertips trace his lips. He half kisses them and smiles. 

"Certainly is, ma'am" he drawls, voice husky with sleep.

She giggles at him, a deep smile on her face, her eyes shining. As much as he loves it here, in this time, with her, he also loves to make fun of it at any opportunity. She thinks it's endearing. He thinks much the same about life in Somerville.

"How long have you been awake?"

"Long enough to see you stir with the sunrise"

She feels such a rush of emotion when he looks at her that way - an indescribable combination of pride and shyness, and love and guilt. Does she look at him that way too? Pay back to him this adoration that he so freely gives? She feels it in her bones, and certainly hopes he knows; she has never loved anyone as deeply as she loves him.

"You could have woken me" she whispers with a smile, perhaps a little suggestive. 

"Laura, it's Saturday" he says with a scrutinising look. "It's the one morning you don't get up for the paper or for church. I would have watched you sleep all day" 

She leans in and kisses him fiercely, and his hand quickly tangles in her hair, holding her close. She rolls on top of him and enjoys the feeling of his naked chest against hers, their legs entwined, his half erection digging into her hip - his free hand caressing the dip of her waist, the small of her back. She presses against him just a little - just enough for him to exhale loudly in appreciation. 

"So" she preens. "Since we don't have to get out of bed any time soon..." 

He openly leers at her, and she giggles again. She hums at him as they look at one another, and she thinks they must look like young newlyweds in that moment. It's not far from accurate; their love is young and they are only a few months wed. Charles makes her feel like a teen again, with her racing heart and easy smiles, so it is not so strange a comparison to make, she thinks, at least in the shelter of their bedroom. Still, this is the only space they indulge this kind of behaviour; everywhere else he is sweet and attentive and open with his love- positively jovial - but only Laura knows the depth of his passion. She loves holding that knowledge close.

"I love you" he says to her, feather-soft and achingly tender. 

"I positively adore you" she replies with a smug smile. She feels no shame or reserve in letting him know, and given how thoroughly he has proven his intentions, she knows it is reciprocated. He gave up literally everything for the chance of sharing a life with her. "I am so lucky - so unbelievably grateful to have you in my life, Charles Lattimer" she says, running her hands through his hair. "You are the most extraordinary man I have ever had the pleasure to know, and I am proud to call you my husband" 

"The pleasure is all mine, Mrs Lattimer. All mine" He kisses her again, their eyes slipping closed. "All mine" he repeats on a whisper, his lips against her lips and his hands running the length of her back and sides. It feels possessive in the most flattering way; like she is his whole world, held gently in his hands; like he is loath to let her go even for a moment.

He gently rolls them, never breaking their kiss, and settles between her legs, his weight held on one elbow, his other hand continuing to trace her shoulder, breast, hip, dips between her legs to caress her. She holds him to her with one hand threaded in his hair, and the other reaching between them. They have time yet before the rest of the house wakes; hours before they are expected in the kitchen for breakfast. The sun has only just arisen and the weekend calls for lazy days and less work. 

All the time in the world.

She moans very softly as he slides inside her, slowly and carefully. He is always so mindful - takes his time not to hurt her. He kisses her deeply, stopping just as he hits her limit, and they spend a short while lavishing each other with their mouths, her hands unabashedly exploring a path over his back, his arse, his legs, and back again - up into his hair to hold their kiss steady. 

He presses just a little against her, one hand on her hip, and she moans in encouragement, spurring him on, begging with a tilt of her pelvis and a nip to his chin. 

He does it again. 

Satisfied by her response, he draws himself out just a little and slides slowly back in - more of a gentle push than a deep hit. She still makes a noise deep in her throat, her head tilting back in pleasure.

She can tell by his movements that he intends to make deep, slow love to her all morning; that he will not deliver her a quick and sharp release, but will draw it out for as long as they can bear, rocking just enough to create a sweet burn. She can never deny him the opportunity, not when he is so faithful in seeking her climax, and the feeling of him moving deliberate and steady inside her is so profound. She opens her eyes and looks at him, and the connection between them makes her spine flush hot and cold. A small shudder runs through her. He smiles.

"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on" he whispers, watching her eyes flicker half closed as he pushes inside her again. It does not betray the memory of Kris to say so; Laura is the woman in his dreams, the woman he knew before he met; the one who stole his heart at first sight and gave him a home, a life, a family. Laura is his peace, and in that he finds his awe of her, unlike anything his old life had to offer. 

"Do you believe in soulmates?" she asks, her voice husky but lucid. It’s something she read in a book once. She’d thought the idea ludicrous until-.

"I do now" 

She smiles at him in pure joy. He looks so playful and yet so honest. She knows he means it; knows from everything he has told her that the experience of coming to Somerville has changed so many things he thought he knew. She can't deny that her own foundations have shaken, shifted, settled again around the knowledge of him and how he came into her life. Her forgiveness had been quick; no matter what his journey entailed there was no denying he had left everything to come back and save her, and her daughter, and the townspeople. His explanations had almost paled in comparison to the realisation that she meant so much to another person.

"I believe you're mine" he adds. He punctuates with a firm, deep thrust of his hips, and she lets out a whimpering moan - a broken sound in the back of her throat. He shushes her with a muffled chuckle, kissing a line down her jaw. Their housemates are not light sleepers this close to breakfast.

"You give my life meaning" he whispers. "Such joy... and love" 

She wraps her palm into his hair and pulls his lips to hers, her tongue dancing against his with ferocity. This time he moans, and she smiles against the kiss. He makes her smile a ridiculous amount. Not even her mother can dislike him when the house is in such good spirits. 

She hadn’t needed his reassurances regarding how he got here, though they had sat by the stream and talked for hours once the commotion had died down. He told her all about his childhood and his youth – when he was born, what kind of world he knew and lived in – things that they would never see in this new lifetime. He explained all about Kris, and the early years of their marriage, and she felt comfortable enough to share some of her life with Will too. He had told her about modern careers and lifestyles, and how he and Kris had started on different pages and continued wanting different things, and how it all came to a head when he arrived that first day in Somerville.

He told her that when he first laid eyes on her – first fell in love with her - his marriage had been all but over. He almost cried, seeking her forgiveness for not being strong enough, not putting a stop to it, not being honest with her about everything in the beginning. For loving her when it was not his place. For allowing her to feel the same for him.

She moans as he thrusts hard and sure inside her, kissing her to muffle the noise. “Where did you go?” he whispers, meeting her eyes again.

She grins up at him. “I was recalling the day by the river” she says, “when you came back”

He smiles at the memory. It had started as a difficult conversation, but it had been worth it by the end, to have all the secrets in the open and all the confusion and hurt eased. Laura had trusted him at the gazebo, and loved him at the river; it was not hard to forgive him now that he was here to stay. Especially in the aftermath of him saving her life.

They had kissed again, that afternoon, slower and gentler than the first time.

Can we start again? I need to prove myself to you. I want to see you, and take you to lunch again. Court you. Laura… will you allow me to love you?

She smiles in return. “It was a good day” she says, arching her back and moving against him in a counter-rhythm. He encourages her to actively participate in their lovemaking – to move with him, and talk to him, let him know what she likes and what she doesn’t. To tell him what she’s comfortable with and not, and if she wants to try anything new. She’d never had that before. She knows what she prefers, and he is happy to indulge her, and they are never disappointed in bed. She is never disappointed in anything to do with her husband.

For as long as you will have me, Charles.

She hadn’t known then how serious he would take her words until he was standing before her not two weeks later with a ring in his hand, asking her to marry him. It was quick and sudden, and their romance only newly rekindled. He had spent his first real pay cheque to buy the ring; he sent off sketches to anyone who would pay him while assisting for a reduced wage at her paper. It never occurred to her that this was him proving himself worthy.

She never doubted him to begin with.

Yes, she had said, without a single breath of hesitation. He is on her permanent payroll now, which smarts with her mother and makes Fred laugh. He defers to her in almost everything, still learning how things work and what is acceptable and how he should behave. He refuses to sacrifice his principles or hers for the sake of the times, and they make a good fit that way. He is her greatest ally, and her fiercest supporter, and she is proud to walk down the street on his arm, head held high against the naysayers. She does not doubt herself in her answer, just as she does not doubt that Mary will be well cared for, and they will have a happy marriage and a sweet and kind life.

Laura, I don’t expect an answer right away, if you need time to-

Indecision is for the young. I know what I want in my life Charles, and there will be no man I love after you. If you can live with my odd ways and love my family as it comes, then I would be honoured to be your wife.

“You are incredible” he mutters into her ear, kissing a slow trail down her shoulder, her collar, her breast, flicking her nipple with his tongue while he continues his slow move inside her. She huffs so as not to moan outright, and runs her nails lightly along his back. He comes up again to kiss her with a serene expression.

“I don’t think you realise how unorthodox your proposal was” she says to him with a playful grin.

“I do now. You made a point to explain that to me, if you recall” he replies, and they lose their synchronicity a little as they both laugh into each other’s shoulders. His deference to her in that matter only set the pace for the rest of their marriage, after all.

He pulls up onto his elbows and slows, stopping altogether and gently nudging her knee flat, and she knows what to expect. She rolls with him, settling herself on top of him, and then smirks at him as they get comfortable in this new position without him slipping out of her. She leans on her elbows, her forearms tucked under his shoulders in as much of an embrace as she can manage in this position. Gently, so as not to strain her muscles, he reaches around and draws her knees forward and up close to his ribs, forcing her to sit higher and her hips to angle differently. Her eyes slip closed in pleasure as the pressure inside changes to accommodate. She can’t help but rock against him.

He smiles up at her as he gently nudges her to sit up, his palms tracing a line from her thighs, her hips, her stomach, to cup her breasts. Her eyes flutter shut as he flicks her nipples with his thumbs and thrusts his hips just enough to encourage her.

This is one position that was very new to her – broad daylight, sitting astride him, rocking slowly as he so blatantly admires her. She loves it. Charles is so appreciative of her body, and so unashamed to look at every inch as she brings them both higher. His unwavering gaze makes her feel so… she can’t even describe it. Powerful, and sexy, and brazen in a way she cannot admire outside this room but that she embraces when she is here with him. It gives her immense pleasure to watch his eyes cloud over and his heart pound beneath her palm at the mere sight of her above him.

“I love seeing you like this. So open…” he whispers. She whimpers lightly as she meets his eyes and holds them. His gaze is focused and intense, and reveals so clearly his passion for her.

“It is the most exquisite feeling” she replies. Her voice is high and reedy, different from her usual measured timber. That she gets herself off on him makes this all the more erotic – her confidence in their lovemaking came swiftly after that first night, and he is overwhelmed that he is the one to bring this out of her and achieve this for her.

One hand abandons her breast and slides down, and she knows what to expect. He presses his palm flat against her womb for a moment, pushing in time to her slow sway, creating sweet pressure. Then his thumb inches lower, collects wetness from where they join, and draws small circles against the spot that sends her flying.

Her head falls back and she just barely catches a sound in her throat as he works her at a pace that will see her peak very shortly. If his own laboured breathing is anything to go by, he is valiantly searching her release before finding his own.

“Come for me Laura” he whispers. She whimpers again. She is not used to dirty talk – a request so blatant and unabashed. She is ashamed to admit just how much she likes it, but then he obviously knows that; he does it often enough. “That’s it. Come for me” he repeats. Her eyes snap open, and she rides the final summit. “Fly. Please. I love to watch your face as you come, as I help you there, feel you, with me inside you-”

His words do the trick. Her glassy eyes look at him, and then suddenly and all at once her body shudders, and her head drops forward, and the hand that was on her breast gently clamps over her mouth to muffle the low rumbling moan that escapes her. He feels a surge of wetness all around him, and she becomes limp as she rides the final swell, and then drops in stages on top of him, boneless and breathless.

He rubs her back, from small to neck, encouraging her to come off her high at her own pace.

“I love you” he whispers in her ear. “I love you, so much. You are my world, my life, my love… I love you Laura”

She pants at him, unable to speak, and raises herself just a little on shaky arms. She looks down at him and smiles – a wide, satisfied, almost dopey grin – before leaning in and kissing him. It’s wet, and sloppy, and passionate, and so very thankful. He smiles into the kiss, slowly nudging and adjusting so they can roll back over without breaking apart. She whimpers again as he hits deep while settling and he kisses her in apology, but rocks again, softer this time.

“Come inside me, Charles” she whispers to him, her voice drowsy. He lets out a groan of his own, buried in the juncture of her neck, as she runs her palms up and down his back and her feet against his calves. She is spent and lazy, but wants him to find his release – treasures the feel of him inside her just as much as he loves the sight of her above him. “Just come inside me”

He wastes no time in setting a pace that will see him there quickly. They had thoughtfully pulled the bed forward just a fraction, to prevent the ornate frame from hitting the wood panelling. It is mornings like this that she is glad for foresight, no matter how much she had blushed when he’d suggested it with an impish grin. The others had stayed in town on their wedding night, and she’d learned the full meaning of ‘shake the walls’; it was a good idea, really.

His breath comes short and sharp against her throat, his lips resting there periodically. She bends her knees up to allow him just a little more, and he groans, his thrusts becoming uneven.

“That’s it” she whispers. “Yes. Inside me. I want to feel you”

He pants louder against her skin, his eyes clenched. She reaches her hands up and cups his cheeks - “Look at me” – and his eyes open and meet hers. “I love you” she whispers. She smiles at him. Then she gently pulls him into a firm kiss that muffles his deep moan as he thrusts a few hard times and falls hot inside her, their skin humming, their eyes closed.

She releases him from the kiss to allow him to catch his breath as his hips twitch against her, the aftershocks coursing through him. She threads a hand through his hair and holds him close as he breathes into her shoulder, tasting her skin, coming back to himself. She can feel him soften inside her, and when he lethargically rolls off and to the side, he slides out, leaving a trail of wet on her thigh. She ignores it as she curls into his side, his arms remaining around her and drawing her close. Her head ends up on his chest and she smiles, one arm thrown over him, their legs tangled.

“What an encore” he whispers, his eyes still closed.

She giggles into his chest, surprised and delighted. Last night had not been so slow, but it was certainly passionate. “An encore indeed”

He blindly reaches over the side of the bed and collects his nightshirt from the floor rug, abandoned last night in haste and needing a wash anyway. He passes it to her and she makes quick work of wiping herself up with a clean edge – and him gently too - before depositing it back in its resting place.

“I have to say, we make a great pair”

“We do indeed, sir, we do” She hums her contentment and pulls the sheet just a little higher over her shoulders, the morning air chilly on her sweat-soaked skin. “Oh, I love you” she sighs happily.

“Because I’m a good lay?”

She makes a choking noise at him, outraged so suddenly that her mouth drops open. She looks up at him, scandalised, and he openly laughs at her, amused by her violent reaction. She pulls a face and whacks him on the chest, dropping gracelessly back into his side. “I should get out of this bed this very instant”

“You won’t. You love me too much”

“Fortunate for you, that’s true” she mumbles. He chuckles at her again, and can feel her smile against his skin, even if he can’t see it. Sometimes it is just too easy to tease her, and too satisfying to see her reactions. He loves when she lets go around him and acts herself – her true self – though she feels self-conscious much of the time. He often has to assure her that she’s positively chaste compared to what he’s used to, and given how open and free he acts around her, she is getting better at letting go of propriety, at least in private. Most days she can give as good as she gets. 

“I am the luckiest man on earth” he mutters into her hair.

“Because I’m a good lay?”

He bursts into a chesty laugh – very loud in comparison to the quiet of the morning - clutching her tight against him in pure adoration as he fails to contain his amusement. She grins openly at him, and he meets her eye before bursting into another round of chuckles. She laughs along with him.

“You are something else” he says, shaking his head at her, his eyes shining. She leans up and kisses him soundly, smiling against his lips, humming in confirmation.

They settle back into the sheets, content to enjoy a few moments of unadulterated cuddling, the sun now firmly in the sky. They’ll make a picnic later, and all go down by the stream, maybe take the fishing poles. Mary will jump across the rocks while the two of them walk calmly barefoot through the shallows, and her mother sits comfortably in the shade on the bank, content to watch over them.

They’ll come up to the house and tend to the vegetable garden, muck out the stall for their one horse they bought, and perhaps she’ll make a dough for bread, since her mother’s arthritis has been bothering her of late.

They’ll sit by the fire in the early evening, warding off the chill as Mary practices her reading out aloud, and Charles sketches, and Laura and her mother tend to the mending, or knitting a scarf for next winter, or darning socks for Walt.

It will be a perfect day, but it will come in time. For now, they lie in bed and enjoy the comfort of each other, and the contentment of saying nothing yet feeling everything. His fingertips run lazy patterns up and down her arm, and hers play against his chest. She presses light kisses to his skin every once in a while. It feels positively decadent.

“Are you happy here, Charles?” she asks. She knows full well what his answer will be.

He smiles and kisses the top of her head, squeezing her tight, all but laughing at her. “Am I happy here?” he mocks her, looking down at her grinning face. She knows it’s a ridiculous question to ask, but sometimes she just likes to make sure. She nods at him, her tongue sticking between her teeth, her eyes dancing with mirth. He turns serious without losing his playfulness, and answers her question. “I am the most content I have ever been my entire life” he says. He sounds so earnest that she can’t help but hum, a high little sound full of emotion. They kiss again.

There is a sudden pounding on the door, and a muffled voice shouts out. “I’m heading down to start breakfast, if you two would like to make yourselves decent and join us”

Charles snorts and silently laughs while throwing his free hand over his eyes. She buries her face against him and scoffs, half amused and half horrified. They hear the footfalls of Mrs Clark walking down the stairs, and the indistinct voice of Mary in the parlour, and he groans his acquiescence.

“At least your mother waited until we were done” he mutters. She throws him a pained expression but says nothing. Before they can leave the bed he stops her and kisses her firmly once more. “Hey. I love you”

She grins at him. “I love you too” she replies easily. They both get out of bed and find clothes that are covered enough for breakfast. The perfect Saturday awaits them, and she can’t say there is a single thing in her life that she regrets in this very moment.

“You know, one of these days I’m going to take you to the motel in town, just you and me, and I promise you we are not leaving that room for two solid days”

And, okay, so maybe she regrets that they have chores to do and their anniversary seems so very far away. But it’s a small price.