Still drowsy, Nina opens her eyes slowly, and what is in her field of vision seems to have come straight out of her dreams. Matthias, with his adorably messy blonde hair, looked at her with a serious expression.
“You know, you scare me sometimes. Your sleep is so heavy that it looks like you died.”
“Don't be so dramatic, Druskelle,” she says as she tucks the fur blanket under her arms.”
They are in the living room of the small house in a village south of Fjerda. It is the first time they have been together after a month apart. Nina infiltrated a girls' school to save two grishas while Matthias argued with the village leaders to ban their trials and execution. They were lucky in some places where people are more open to change, but very unlucky in others. The kind of bad luck that almost cost them their lives. Several times. The kind of bad luck that makes you think of how lucky you are in other parts of life.
“Did you think about what I said?” Asked Matthias.
Nina just shrugs, pretending not to pay attention. The night before was when they met again. She finally managed to secure a safe passage for the two Grisha girls to go to Ravka and immediately went back to meet Matthias in the small house in the village. It was a good reunion.
“I honestly never thought of marriage. In fact, I don't think I ever thought about getting married before. You know with the whole Darkling thing and the civil war in Ravka, marriage just never been my top priority. But don't worry, married or not, I would give you my life, give you a child... But I would never give you peace.” she said with a mischievous smile on her lips.
“I think you should marry me.” he said when he snuggled next to her. “After all, you corrupted me.” he said when he came closer and kissed her lips and went down to the neck.
"I think I did a good job then," said Nina, smiling. And she smiled even more as Matthias kissed her gently and joined her under the blankets.
When Nina woke up, the fireplace was still lit. Matthias slept soundly. She felt her breath on the top of her head, her left arm around him. Nina had many powers, but her favorite was to see the influence she had on that man.
Sometimes he still had nightmares, with Hellgate, the shipwreck... But when he hugged her to sleep, the nightmares vanished. He was calm, like a child who slept after being cradled with a bedtime story.
She felt good to see him so well. She would do anything for him. Seeing him happy made her happy. She turned slowly, not to wake him and looked at his face so serene and whispered.
“I want to marry you, Matthias Helvar. A mischievous smile appeared on his lips “I will have so much fun tormenting you as a wife.”
5 Years later
Matthias's eyes shone with the sight in front of him. With all the things he went through, he never thought the day would come when he could enjoy a moment like this.
“Her hair is just like yours.” He said smiling.
“She is 3 months old, her hair is the same as of any baby who has brown hair.”
“No, it’s like yours.” Nina rolled her eyes
“Well it doesn't matter, she has your eyes and nose, although I’d love for her have my eyes” Nina said.
Nina and Matthias were lying on the bed in one of the bedrooms in Wylan's mansion, they had been there since Zora was born, perhaps they would stay a little longer. They spent the last five years between Fjerda and Ravka, visiting Ketterdam only twice, but now with the their small baby, who was lying between her parents, they thought that maybe they could slow down a bit and be around old friends. A safe place.
“She is exactly like you Nina, you don't have to worry. Everything about her, every way, every movement, it's all you.”
“Do you think you can handle two of me, druskelle?”
“Until the end of time, drusje.”
The tender moment did not last long, as the door opened abruptly, but that didn’t startle them. Living in Wylan's mansion had many advantages, but the disadvantage had just walked through that door.
“There she is. My favorite girl!” Jesper didn't even bother to announce himself, he just went towards the bed and took Zora from between them.
“Jesper…” Matthias said.
“Relax big guy, this princess right here is already used to Uncle Jesper.”
“That's exactly what I feared.” Wylan shyly entered the room. “Care to get your other half out of here?”
“You are assuming that I have some influence on Jesper, which I don’t, so you better just leave the two of them together. When they get tired, each of us takes our half and goes to bed.”
Nina, Matthias and Wylan simply stood still while looking at the scene in front of them. Jesper held Zora in his lap and played with her, making the little girl giggle. He was always around, a constant presence. Inej, Wylan and even Kaz - in his weird way - loved the girl, but Jesper developed an inexplicable bond with her.
“You know little princess, with your beauty and my charm there is nothing in this city that we can’t get. I'm sure if I entered the bakery with you right now, they would give me free croissants.”
“Do not use my daughter to get free food.” warned Matthias
“Relax, I’ll bring you waffles.” Nina listened carefully. Matthias simply threw himself on the bed while Wylan stood by the doorway.
“I’ll have grey hairs by the end of the year if Jesper continues to act like this.”
“This is not so bad, grey hair would look sexy on you” She said biting her lip.
“And this is our cue to leave.” said Jesper, hurrying out of the room with the baby.
“Wait!” Nina shouted. “Where are you going? Give my daughter back.”
“Relax, I'll just take her to the gardens, she needs sun, nobody wants our princess to have this yellowish white of the Fjerdans.” Matthias rolled his eyes for what felt like the tenth time since Jesper had entered the room.
He was getting out of bed ready to go after him when Wylan said “You know, you don’t need to be worried when Jesper is with Zora. He can be a little inconsequential, impulsive, sometimes I think a little silly and definitely not aware of most things, but I would never, for a second, worry about Zora if Jesper’s with her. He would give his life for that girl, you know that, don't you?”
Matthias and Nina looked at each other. He gave a wry smile. “Yes,“ he threw himself on the bed. “I know.”
Wylan went after Jesper. Nina threw herself on the bed next to Matthias.
“You know as much as I hate to admit, having Jesper around has its advantages. Whenever I'm tired he takes care of Zora and I can sleep peacefully.”
“In your case, go into a coma.”
“Whatever.” She turned on her side, propping herself up on her elbow to face him. “What's going on in that big head of yours?”
He was still lying on his back. He raised an eyebrow at her. “How did you…”
“I know everything, Helvar. I’d know you even if you were upside down.”
He can't help but smile. They had been together for so many years that they decorated each other's details. They could be together in the same room in total silence without feeling uncomfortable, just her presence was enough for him.
“Do you ever think about staying here for a long time?”
“In this bed with you?” Her malicious smile was wonderful.
“Well yes, but also, here in this house. Not that Jesper's presence isn’t soothing and relaxing, but have you never thought of staying elsewhere? I mean, Ravka is your home.”
“You are my home. No matter what country we live in, as long as you and Zora are with me, that’s going to be my home.”
“I love you. I want the best for my girls, so I don't want to go back to Fjerda. I know we spent a long time there, and although some people are changing their minds about Grisha, it wouldn't be the safest place for you two.”
“We don't know if Zora is Grisha.”
“It doesn't matter, I won't take any chances. Things may be changing in Fjerda, but it will still take time. I know that our goal was to change things there, but it won’t happen overnight. So for now, I think we should stay here in Ketterdam, where it is relatively safer. And you know, we can use all the influence and power that Kaz has here. If we say that Zora is his goddaughter, no one will even think about messing with her. Grisha or not.”
“If Jesper hears this he'll have a stroke. He invited himself to be her godfather, anything else for him will be inconceivable.”
“It won't be true, Jesper remains as her official godfather.” He smiled.
“So I think we will stay here for a while.”
“If you want to.”
“I do.” she leaned closer to Matthias and rested her head on his chest while he ran his hands behind her back and brought her close to him. “I want to be close to my friends, laugh at their stupid jokes and have dinner with them. I want Zora to feel all that love, this is a good place for that.”
“I hope you don't want to say here, exactly.” he pointed with his free arm to the room. “Wylan is very generous, and his mother is very kind, but there is a limit to how much Jesper we can take a day.”
“Right…”Nina laughed “We can look for a house or apartment, Wylan can help us, not too far, of course, I still need Jesper's babysitting services.”
“Yes.” Matthias said as he turned and held her chin. “His services are very useful.” he said, lifting his lips to hers, caressing her as he brought her closer and closer and opened her blouse.
“You, Matthias Helvar” she said, smiling with each kiss. “Your fire keeps my heart warm, you are everything, my friend, lover, protector, husband.”
“You are everything to me, drusje.”
“Very rude of you to call me that now.” she said as she tore off his shirt.
“What can I do?” he felt ecstatic as her hands roamed on his back, loving every touch, every kiss, every smile that Nina gave him. “I could never give you peace.”