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Of Home and Hearth

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She’d lost track of the months that he’d been gone. A few precious years since the birth of their children, their wedding, and everything that came before it. Milena glanced fondly at their crossed swords mounted proudly above the door, his old one and her own family heirloom glinting steel, polished in the waning afternoon sun. Kjaran was a good man, the best she’d ever known. He was affectionate and protective, powerful, stern, and he lived and fought for their children as fiercely as he worshipped her. Milena knew she was his equal, he never allowed her to doubt that, because he was hers as much as she was his, and they burned for each other like twin infernos. She wiped her hands on her pinafore and finished hanging the clean pots near the hearth, hoping he would return home soon, longing for her husband’s embrace.  

 

For the first time, instead of making promises to take the year off for bearing children, Kjaran had made her promise to raid with him the summer after their marriage. Milena agreed of course, eager to break in the ship he’d given her as a wedding gift, and he didn’t complain the year after that when she wanted to raid again. This year, however, the third year, was the first time they’d been apart since he gave up his seat of Jarl of the North to come back to her shores with the intention to marry her. Signe, their daughter, had become sick with a summer chill before they were meant to set sail to raid some of the smaller but wealthy settlements that had begun to dot the English coastline. Worried for her child, Milena had insisted on staying behind.   

 

She knew Kjaran worried for them both because he’d left an ill child behind once before, only to lose them to Halls of Valhalla while he was away. It was important to her to put her husband’s mind at ease, that she would be there to nurse their daughter back to health. She did so too, with Atla’s help of course, because Milena had no skill with medicine, but it gave her a chance to work on the farm and ensure that they had a more plentiful harvest this year. It gave her time to think of him, to miss him, to imagine that he crowded her empty bed with his body, to pray that the violence of the raids hadn’t taken him from her and that the Gods would let her keep him. Kjaran had escaped death and destruction once, sacrificed himself for the safety of their people, and out of love for her. 

 

Her children were staying in Queen Sefi’s longhouse to play with Small Lady and Mag's children, Tora and Toke, for the night which wasn’t uncommon since they all took lessons together. Sefi enjoyed filling her large house with the rowdy company of children while her King was more fond of privacy and silence. But it was nights like this that Milena would have crowded all of the settlement’s youth into her empty home if only to try and fill the emptiness of Kjaran’s absence. Milena was ready to make her husband pay for every second that he left her in solitude, by choice or not it was his fault that she loved him so dearly, and she planned to make him feel every ounce of it the moment he returned home.

 

She must have fallen asleep before the sunset, close to nightfall, still dressed in her favorite blue dress weighted with medallions depicting the two cats of Freyja’s chariot in an attempt to look beautiful just in case her husband returned since there was no timing the length of the raids. The plunder always took exactly as long as it needed to, and this night, it was late. 

 

Milena jarred and sprung to her feet, hunting knife in hand when the door of her home creaked open after dark. She swore it was still a dream to see her husband, and yet there he stood, soot smudged down his chiseled features bringing the pale grey in his eyes to piercing intensity. His hair was long and braided away from his face on one side the way she liked it, framed by wild sea blown silver on the other. His bloodstained shirt had been left open at the chest and Kjaran was filthy, battle-worn, and marked by new scars still pink in his flesh, but he was home all the same. The Gods had been kind to heed her prayers, she would offer them a grand tribute for it in exchange for his safety. 

 

“Milena…” He whispered, his voice confirming once more that this was no dream. 

 

The knife clattered to the floor and she met his savage eyes, her body tensed with restraint from merely throwing herself into his arms.  “Are you injured? Did the raids go well?” 

 

“I am well.” He replied, stepping into the room with a glance around, likely in search of their children. “Signe… is she…” 

 

“She is fine thanks to Atla, it was a Summer chill, nothing more. In fact, the children are all with Sefi tonight, healthy, playing, and likely driving Erland mad.” Milena thanked Frigga for this and bit her lip, sauntering a step toward her husband who visibly relaxed at her assuring words. She’d almost forgotten just how tall, how big he was. Perhaps his success in this raid had made him as big as she saw him in her mind, a giant, filling every nook and cranny of it. “What fortunes did you bring us?” 

 

Kjaran smirked, “I think you’ll be pleased with tomorrow’s gathering. We didn’t expect to make it home until dawn but I slaughtered the fattest heifer in England to satisfy Joot. I’ve never seen the serpent so motivated.” 

 

“Well, I am glad you appeased him enough to bring you back to me early because I am far from satisfied with your absence, Husband.” There was a husk in her voice that raised his skin as Milena drew near, slowly removing his shirt to watch the scarred flesh beneath come to life.  

 

“Why do you think I slaughtered the fattest heifer I could find?” Kjaran questioned, his body tensed with restraint, but resigned to her slow disrobing of him. “I would have given him my share of the gold as well if he could get me into our bed any sooner.” 

 

She smiled, dark and dangerous, removing his sword from his hips and carefully leaning it against the wall beside the front entrance, running her hands up the ridges of muscle in his torso until she was fully pressed against him, pinning Kjaran to the door. “I’ve missed you.” 

 

He growled and tried to capture her lips with his, but Milena escaped the attempted kiss despite her ache to devour them. Instead, she kissed the center of his chest, inhaling the savagery on him, the blood, sweat, and sea salt clinging to his skin. Her lips were saltier for the kiss, a memory of how they met crashing against her tongue. She kissed his chest again and felt her thighs constrict together, the soft sound of her name breezing between his lips as she read the various scars of his body with her fingers, and he, in turn, read the curves of her body with his.  

 

“You will bathe first.” Milena husked, pulling him by the hand toward their washtub still fragrant from her earlier bath, the water cooling as the summer had begun to wane into autumn. 

 

“Join me,” He said, brushing his lips against hers so briefly, so teasingly while his fingers gathered the skirt of her dress in his hands to lift it over her head, but she wasn’t cooperating with him. 

 

“I’ll wait. You always said I should be more patient, and you should shave.” She teased in return, loosening his pants and tugging them down over his hips to be discarded to the floor and washed later. The sweet scent of his growing arousal daring her to forgo the prolongment of her own growing need, tempting her to touch him, and oh how she wanted nothing more than to touch all of him. “I’ll watch.” 

 

Kjaran wasn’t always keen on Milena’s sex games, but this time she made it clear that she would make it worth it, pulling her dress over her head as she backed toward their bed, keeping him in view as she slipped onto the fur covering, soft against her skin. She’d seen the look in his eyes on the faces of starving and rabid wolves, staring as Milena nestled suggestively onto their bed. She relished the tension and longing that only came from long absences as it became tangible between them. He would play along, for now, likely sore and exhausted from his journey, her husband lathered some lye soap in his hands and reached for the rag in the flowery smelling water, and began to shave and bathe instead of promptly ravaging her. Kjaran always had been far more patient than she could ever hope to be.

 

She began unwinding the braids from her hair, while he washed the dirt and soot from his face, leaving dark remnants and traces framing his grey eyes as they roved over her nakedness from across the room. Milena ran her fingers through her hair, letting the golden locks fall around her, fixed on him with such focus as Kjaran washed the filth and blood from his skin, tiny rivers dripping down the crevices of his muscular stomach and hips, down where his cock betrayed his patience. 

 

Toying with him was her favorite game, one she liked to think that he delighted in because it was one that she seldom ever won. Milena often initiated, only dominating him long enough to make Kjaran lose control in ways that left her body sore for many days after he was done with her, and the release was always so exquisite that they were both insatiable for days after. It was the only game she was ever eager to lose. 

 

She lay back against the furs on the bed, propping herself up on her elbows and lifting one knee, spreading her legs apart with darkened eyes fixed upon him. She was as starved for this as he was, had dreamed of his intense and hidden affection that he kept from the rest of the world and only delivered to her alone with such passion that it lingered long after he had left. The anticipation of it now that he had returned only furthering her mounting hunger. Kjaran growled and she watched him clench the rag in his fist, a moment of debate when she caressed her breasts softly, toying with the pebbled tips with the pads of her fingers with gentle rolls and spread her legs wider with a pleasured sigh. 

 

“You are wicked.” He accused, only giving her more of a show by stroking his cock with a hand lathered with soap until it was intimidating. Long, and thick, and hard as a pike in his grasp. Milena licked her lips.

 

“And you are slow.” She said, reaching between her thighs to stroke with two fingers, parting the slick pink flesh for his view, stroking, probing methodically at her entrance to encourage more of the wetness from her own arousal. The silky essence of a woman was a far sweeter feeling than the spit of his palm, an easier glide in which he’d fill her the way he filled his palm in slow satisfying strokes. Milena dipped her fingers inside, boring her eyes into his when she lilted magic into her voice and moaned, essentially breaking any resolve Kjaran had. She’d won, for now.

 

Rising up to meet him, their mouths clashed with violent tongues and nipping teeth, deep kisses with the flavor of mint leaves and clove. He’d tried his best to sweep her into his arms, to overpower her, but Milena wrapped herself around him and flipped Kjaran onto his back, falling violently against the bed so she straddled his hips, pinning him in place.

 

“Patience, my Siren.” He mumbled against her lips, contradicting his own resolve with his hands, the callouses rough against her skin making her only want him even more. She trailed her lips down his neck, tasting the floral notes leftover from his bathing mingle with sea salt so deliciously that she sucked the flesh of his pulse into her mouth, letting his growl roll through her body like thunder. 

 

“My patience has long left me,” Milena breathed against his rough jaw, her lips brushing the lobe of his ear. Kjaran shivered beneath her, his cock hard and firm, trapped between their stomachs leaked its fluid onto their skin.  

 

“You have a talent for stealing mine.” He said, hands splayed and roving down her back to her flanks, and buttocks. She shivered in return, one for one, and pressed her body against him, real and in the scarred and perfect flesh, reveling in the warmth of his arms. A welcome home even though Milena had never left.    

 

She shifted up, pressing her palms against his chest. “You will know how a wild stallion feels to be ridden when I am done with you.” 

 

He groaned, fingers biting hard into her hips as she lowered herself onto his rigid length, the delightful stretch of her body, tight around the pronounced head of his cock. She gorged herself on him with a strangled gasp of pleasure, Kjaran flexing his hips and digging his blunt nails into her flesh when she sheathed him into her slick heat as deep as her body could manage. For a moment, she met his adoring eyes amidst their teasing. He was marveling up at her, and she felt like a Goddess.  

 

In turn, Kjaran growled and pulled her sticky fingers into his mouth, lewdly sucking the remnants of her arousal still lingering there, arching his hips up into hers. “Still trying to tame me?”

 

Milena half moaned, half laughed, as she wiggled her hips on him, growing used to his familiar size. “I wouldn’t dream of it,” She began to move slowly at first, trying to gauge his stamina. “The ride wouldn’t be a challenge if I did that, and you know how I love a hard, rough, challenge,” she dared, leaning forward on her palms, gasping when he pulled her nipple into his mouth and teased the budded tip with his tongue.

 

He snapped his hips upwards and grinned daringly at her loud, strangled moan from the sheer depth of him, the way his body collided into her core when his thick cock ripped into her. “Is that what you want?” 

 

“Yes,” She cried out when he thrust again, and she tried to hold on to her slipping control, rolling her hips in fluid, more eager motions that had Kjaran throwing his head back against the cushion, cursing his moans through parted lips. “I'll not be so easily sated after your long absence.” 

 

“So sate yourself, my love, I’m yours.”

 

He’d lost himself to the movements of her hips, the way she stroked his body with her own with more ferocity. Milena felt a sense of pride that she seemed to have won, but even then as she rode him harder, the sweat beginning to bead on her skin, it was enough.  

 

“Kjaran…” She gasped, feeling the control in his hands slowly breaking as he grasped her breasts in his palms and met her eyes with that same wolfish hunger at the sound of his name. “I want another child…” 

 

Despite her ability to overpower him, Kjaran was always able to win their little game, and she loved it. Her declaration had been enough to break him a second time, her heart swelled with it and she growled back when his fingers gripped her thighs, rocking up into her like a knarr boat adrift during a violent storm. She had to fight to keep her legs from already shaking, the pleasurable bite of each filling stroke was severe, and Milena felt like a maiden all over again.

 

He clenched her hips and sat up, his chest and lips colliding with hers, fingers biting bruises into her skin as he drove her onto his cock over and over with impossibly strong arms and purposeful thrusts. Any control over himself had been thrown to the wayside, and Kjaran fucked her until she couldn’t breathe for the gasps and moans that left her mouth were likely to have woken their neighbors. Her fingers buried into his wild silver hair and clenched, nails raked into his sun deepened skin, leaving red trails raised in their wake.

 

She moved with him, meeting hard thrust for hard thrust even though his lips against her skin, his breaths, gasps, and growls were so soft, so tender, that Milena began to break in his arms. Her amorous cries grew louder, some of them sung through open mouthed kisses that were sloppy with passion and swallowed moans. Some with her head thrown back so her hair tickled his thighs and her flesh was pulled into his mouth leaving red and purple welts that made the pleasure almost unbearable. 

 

When he came Kjaran roared with his release, thrusting hard with each spurt of it deep within her that sent her reeling hard over the edge as she came with him, sliding desperately on his spending flesh still hard and jerking with each of her shattering movements. He growled and convulsed while she pulsed around his cock, letting the waves of her release steal her breath and turn her vision white. He held her the entire time, gripped her like something precious until her thighs stopped shaking and her moans became silent, gasping breaths against his skin while the raw pleasure made its way through her sated limbs.   

 

He did not pull himself from inside of her, but pulled Milena down onto the bed and wrapped her in his arms, forbidding her to move. She delighted in it, limbs tangled with her beautiful husband, trying to catch her breath while she nestled against his heaving chest and the sweat on their skin began to cool. 

 

“I love you, Milena. I have missed you, and I have missed our family.” He said breathily into her hair, placing a kiss on her temple. Her eyes closed, fighting the brim of happy tears. "It is all that keeps me going when you're not by my side. Knowing that I need to come home to you."

 

“I have never ached for anything so much in my life.” She said, letting one tear fall. Love, real love, was not something that was often found in their world. They were lucky, they were fated, and Milena wouldn’t let it go for as long as the Gods willed her to have it. 

 

“Tell me about this child you have been dreaming of.” 

 

She sighed happily and shifted her hips against his contentedly, legs tightening around his waist as she felt him stir inside of her. He’d only need a few minutes, and she’d have him again. “A daughter of Freyja, the next of my blood.” 

 

Kjaran lifted her chin with a gentle hand so he could look into her eyes. She could have laughed, noticing he’d missed some spots in his haste to shave, but the love she felt between them was too powerful for her to tease him just then. Later certainly. 

 

“Is Signe not Freyja’s daughter?” 

 

Milena chucked and kissed his nose, “No, she is like you, she cannot sing.” 

 

“What will you call her?” he mused, tickling her sides to pull more of her giggles and shifted until his pleasant weight was on top of her, not bothering to question her desire for a daughter when he could have another son. 

 

“Astrid.” She answered, feeling him hardening inside of her when she moved her hips. Scarred as it was, his skin was smooth against her palms, the thought of letting him out of her arms anytime soon filling her with dread. “Let’s skip the gathering tomorrow…”

 

“Erland would really have my head then,” He answered softly, kissing her neck, his lovemaking slow and languid, voice husky and pleasured. “Otherwise I’m yours… all day if you want me.” 

 

“I do…” Milena whispered, chills rising to her flesh, feeling him grow thick inside of her as he moved. “I want you in the field picking berries, in the hay on the farm when we go to feed the cows, on the beach in the rain…for the rest of my life, I want you.”

 

 “I’m yours,” Kjaran assured, silver hair falling all around her, his grey eyes like silver medallions in the dying light of the fire. He’d rekindle it later, for he thrust his hips into hers and made her gasp. “and Astrid will be as beautiful as you are.” 

 

Milena pulled his lips to hers as their bodies moved together in unison. There would be no games this time, but raw passion, and pure love. Yes, the dying fire and the chill in the air that followed would go forgotten. Her husband had come home, and he would keep her plenty warm that night.