They had been married a month.

Yet the pair had not consummated their marriage yet. Few except the servants knew this, and even they knew better than to ask. The husband would not pressure his wife, especially since she had been forthright with him since the beginning. The arranged marriage chafed at them both, but they were willing to work with what they have and what they were given.

She was a scholar of no small beauty. Her intelligent brown eyes captivated even the dullest of men, andher conversation was rarely without meaning. Like most female scholars though, she had not paid much attention to her appearance. Her long hair was simply long, just past her shoulders, falling in thick waves that she normally held in a simple ponytail. The lack of makeup on her face also meant that she bypassed the notice of most the nobles, upperclass males and royalty, generally the most likely avenue for female Scholars when it came to marriage.

He, on the other hand, was a quiet young man who radiated wisdom, confidence and most importantly, maturity. Dark brown eyes, framed by a small pair of spectacles often hid intelligence and wit behind them, but those in the court were wary of the young man. He had a reputation, well-deserved, of being insightful, quick wit and more importantly, of making the impossible, possible. There was a certain charm around him that drew women to him like flies to honey. Despite that, he was painfully shy, though it was easily covered. His desire to protect those he cared about was strong, and he didn’t abandon them even if they deserved it. This was a side that worried the King and pleased the Queen.

The two had been matched mainly because it was time for the man to settle down and the woman needed to recover from a recent heartbreak. Like many scholars she had invested in a very long-term relationship that went awry and the Queen did not like seeing her goddaughter in such pain. A quiet word to the mothers of both, and within three months, the woman and the man had found themselves handfasted to each other.

“I’ll be honest with you, Shiz. I’m here just because it pleases my mother and godmother. I will bear your children, but only when I’m ready,” she had told him on their wedding night, looking at him in the eye.

“We’re both young yet, Hime. I will not force you to do anything you do not want.”

She released the breath that she had not realised that she had been holding, relief evident. Her voice, as she thanked him, was soft. Moving around him, she pulled the covers back on the bed and bit on her finger till it bled. She rubbed her finger into the bedclothes, and he understood immediately. This was the ‘proof’ that he’d taken her virginity and consummated their marriage. Once the deed was done, she stood up, and squared her shoulders.

“It’s done.”

He moved to her, holding her tenderly. That simple act was enough to release a torrent of sobs from the woman, and she turned to sob into his silk shirt. He had known her some years before, when she had just embarked on the road to be a scholar. Her companion then had been a stocky boy who’d matched her in age and wit, but something had turned sour recently and they had separated. They had been together four years, and the pain of that parting hurt her still, judging from the strength of her sobs.

He murmured soft comfort and kissed her forehead. All this time, he was aware of her as a man. Soft breasts, unbound under the satin nightgown, pressed insistently against his chest, taunting him as the nipples became erect. She was pressed against his length, and he knew that she could not miss his erection under his loose nightclothes. From time to time, she’d push back, but he was not sure whether she was doing it deliberately, or whether she just wanted a warm body to hold.

When her sobs subsided, he suggested that they go to bed, fully intending to sleep on the floor. She insisted that he sleep on the bed with him though, and curled up on his side like a kitten, trusting him that he would not take advantage of her. He stroked her hair as she fell asleep, and when she had been asleep for a little while, he pulled back a little to look at her in the moonlight. She seemed peaceful and happy, but there was a trace of sadness and regret in the twist of her lips that had never been there in all the time he’d known her.

“Hime, are you in here?” he called out to his wife as he looked into her bedroom next to his. She was, as usual, lying on her belly, reading. At his voice, she turned from her book and sat up, the covers falling to reveal her peach-coloured negligée. He blinked twice to see the two erect nipples, showing clearly through thin material.

“Yes, Shiz?? she crossed her feet under the covers as she faced him, leaning against the headboard after patting the spot in front of her, inviting him to sit.

“How was your day?? he got into her side of the bed instead, putting one arm around her. She didn’t protest like she normally did, letting him pull her closer to his chest and leaning into him, her book forgotten.

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