Theme #6: Children
Allistor was an impulsive man, there was no doubt about it.
He was stubborn and angry and full of sarcasm and crude language, often jumping headfirst into a fight with little forethought, the littlest thing capable of setting him off. The man was as fiery as his hair. But with all of his flaws came his good traits, too. He was also intelligent and very kind, and he had a good sense of morality. He was prideful, yes, but there was a rather large helping of humility in there as well—he knew when to stop, unlike his ass of a younger brother. Allistor was a hard worker with a golden heart, dead set on ensuring the prosperity of his country and happiness of his people. And there was one thing that would be the death of you someday: the fact that he was keen, sharp man with the gift of reading people like they were open books. He could sense when something was wrong, and he could determine whether you were in tears and in need of comfort (to which he’d come running) or needed help finding something to punch (in other words, he’d send for Arthur). He had a knack for picking up on the signs, but then again, what kind of husband would he be if he wasn’t in tune with your emotions?
And this was definitely one of those times when you needed his reassurance.
It was nearing dusk one winter evening, and your cozy cottage tucked away in the hills was filled with warmth; roaring flames were burning in the hearth of the fireplace. The fire was the only source of light in the cottage, aside from a few candles placed in strategic points throughout the little stone house, the kerosene lamp placed upon the tiny table beside your cushioned chair, and the windows that allowed the fading sunlight to stream in. Outside, the ocean was calm, emitting the soothing, repetitive sound of water lapping lazily against the bases of the cliffs your home was situated by. The wind spirits were peaceful tonight, only having enough energy to drift slowly over the countryside, stirring the leafless branches of dying trees and urging the dark clouds overhead forward, exposing the round, silvery moon every once and a while.
All was pleasantly calm.
You rested in the armchair beside the fireplace, a patchy quilt over your legs and a book in your hands. Your eyes scanned the pages, but you weren’t really reading, to be honest. Your mind was elsewhere, preoccupied with thoughts of your husband, who was to return home in less than a few minutes, if the clock on the mantle above the fireplace was correct. He was just past the woods in the distance, having to handle business in the next village over on the petty topic of theft; someone had claimed another had stolen from him, and the problem escalated from there. Being Scotland’s personification, people held Allistor in high regards, and it was his duty to address issues, no matter how great or little their importance, so he responded to their message and left to solve the situation after pressing a kiss to your forehead and flashing you that crooked smirk of his.
You weren’t focused on that fact, however. Your mind was wrestling with a bigger issue, one that had been bothering you for a long time. It was deterring your attention from the elegant script on the yellowed pages of the book, causing you to stare blankly at the inky words with little comprehension. You’d actually been on the same page for about fifteen minutes, now, simply lost in thought.
You were startled from this dreamlike state when the pounding of horse hooves became apparent. You blinked and glanced up from the book (what was it called again?) and turned your head to the window beside the front door, squinting to see who the approaching figure was. You recognized the grey horse with its flowing black mane as Allistor’s, and the man upon its back was in fact your husband, his shaggy red hair, visible in the light of the setting sun, unmistakable.
A small smile appeared on your face briefly before it disappeared, your earlier thoughts reemerging from your subconscious once more.
Allistor led his horse out of sight, heading toward the barn behind the cottage to bring the horse to its stable and allow the animal to rest. He reappeared a minute later, hands in his pockets and lips pulled into a content smile as he headed toward the front door. He let himself in quietly, removing his boots and hanging his blue cloak on the hanger nailed into the wall beside him, then turned to stride into the parlor of your shared home, and immediately his piercing green eyes darted to you, his smile widening.
You returned the smile as best as you could, removing the blanket and climbing to your feet. “Welcome back.”
Allistor was across the room in less than a second, arms winding around your waist and holding you close. “I missed you.”
His voice was thick with that accent you loved, rumbling in his chest against your cheek, warm and comforting. However, it wasn’t enough to cheer you up tonight. “I missed you, too,” you mumbled into his shirt, a small sigh escaping you as one hand skimmed lightly over your sides and up your back, coming to rest on the back of your neck. His fingers sent small, pleasant shivers down your spine as they stroked your hair, entangling themselves within your strands—but you couldn’t find it within yourself to enjoy it.
Allistor leaned down and pressed a chaste kiss to your lips. “You wouldn’t believe how much I wanted to leave that place and come rushin’ back to you,” he murmured, combing a hand through your silky locks. “The entire thing was tedious, lass. I wanted to rip my hair out. Humans are strange creatures, gettin’ upset over wee issues like that. Compared to us, they’ve got less time. I always wonder why they’ve gotta put stress on every little thing. You think they’d wanna savour what time they have.”
“Mhm,” you hummed, not really paying attention.
Allistor spun you around gently and pressed your back to his chest, a tiny smirk playing at the corners of his mouth as his arms wound snugly around your waist, embracing you tightly. “Today was rough, and I’m feelin’ in need of some cheerin’ up.”
You rested your head against his collarbone and looked up at him with round eyes. “What is it you had in mind?” you asked softly.
His voice lowered and his tone shifted into something different, rather seductive. “Something fun,” he murmured with a grin, leaning down to nip at your earlobe.
At the feeling of his teeth grazing your ear, you flinched and abruptly pulled away, spinning around to face him while wrapping your arms around your middle, hugging yourself. “A-Actually, Allistor, I’m not…feeling well. I don’t think…I’d be up to it, you see.” Your forced smile was brittle, and your voice barely audible. “I-I should be heading to bed, actually—”
Allistor’s arms fell to his sides, and you watched as his visage filled with confusion, as well as a hint of worry. “(Name)?”
You continued to stammer out excuses, the desperation becoming more and more apparent in your tone as you stammered on. “Sorry, Ali, really, I am, b-but I’m just feeling rather ill— I think I-I…I should be going! Sleep helps with migraines and such— a-and you know how I am, always getting those bothersome headaches—”
“(Name).” His voice was firmer this time, rather stern.
You instantly shut your mouth, squeezing your eyes shut.
“Lass, what’s the matter with you?” Allistor cocked his head to the side, indicating his puzzlement. Worry settled over his features, and his tone took on something that was a mixture of concern and bemusement. “Are you…all right?” He stepped forward and placed a hand on your cheek, brushing locks out of your lovely eyes. “You’ve been actin’ strange as of late,” he muttered, eyeing you with his piercing emerald gaze. “This isn’t the first time you’ve gone makin’ excuses and avoidin’ my advances. What’s wrong?”
Damn his observance.
You rocked back on your heels, clasping your hands behind your back when you suddenly felt like a child who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “I’m fine, Allistor,” you replied softly, averting your eyes to the floor. “Just ill.”
He raised an eyebrow and heaved a sigh. “What ails you?” he questioned, not fooled. “Something must be botherin’ you to the point of not wantin’ to tell me anything.” Allistor’s hand fell from your cheek and rested on your arm instead, thumb tracing patterns absently on your skin. “Come on, out with it, lass. I don’t like watchin’ you suffer. You can tell me anything, you know.”
You nodded slowly. “I…I know that.”
Allistor rested his hands on both of your shoulders. “Then what’s stoppin’ you?”
You averted your eyes again. “…Nothing. I just…don’t feel well enough today.”
“You said that yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Did…” Allistor suddenly looked horrified. “…did I do something to upset you?”
You immediately shook your head. “N-No!” you reassured him quickly, voice trembling a bit. “You haven’t done anything Allistor, I swear!”
He relaxed slightly, but his expression was still troubled. “Then what has you all worried, (Name)?” he inquired softly, dropping both hands from your shoulders and taking yours in them instead. His fingers intertwined with yours, locking them together and fitting like they were always meant to be. The hold was comforting, and it caused guilt to rear its ugly head in the pit of your stomach, festering in your gut and swirling around to the point where you felt almost sick. “You’re my wife. You should be able to tell me anything without havin’ to fear. Trust me, lass, and tell me what’s goin’ on,” Allistor urged.
You couldn’t take it anymore and released a small sob.
Allistor reacted to the sound instantly, green eyes widening with shock as his hold tightened on you. “(Name)? Are you—?”
“I haven’t been able to bear you any children, Allistor!” you cried, escaping from his hold and turning away, burying your face in your hands. Tears leaked out from between your fingers, and a familiar achy feeling formed in your throat, like a wad of cotton had just been stuffed down your esophagus. “W-We’ve tried so many times, b-but I haven’t been able to give y-you what you want! There’s something wrong w-with me, I…I know it! A-And I…I just want to be a good wife! I w-want to have a family, and b-be a mother, a-and…” You let out a wail. “I just want to have a baby!”
Allistor stood frozen for a second, stunned by your outburst. Then he came back to life, rushing to your side and enveloping you in his arms—the exact opposite of what you thought he was going to do.
“(Name), (Name), honestly, what do you take me for?” he scolded you lightly. “I would never think you were a bad wife to me just because you haven’t born a child! We’ve been tryin’ and that’s all that matters!” Allistor embraced you tightly, placing your head in the crook of his neck and ruffling your hair. “Besides, we’ve got plenty of time for that. And you shouldn’t be givin’ up hope just yet! It takes time, lass, and we’ve got a lot of time. Forever, if I remember right!” he teased.
You stood still in his arms, eyes wide with surprise. You even forgot to cry. “You’re not…upset with me?”
“’Course not!” he replied, shaking his head. “I’d never be upset with you. It’d be selfish of me if I was. S’not like you’re not havin’ a kid on purpose.”
A long sigh of relief escaped your lips. “Y-You…” You smiled timidly. “You’re so kind, Allistor. Thank you.” You closed your eyes and inhaled the scent of his clothes, feeling at ease; a peace you hadn’t been able to find in a long time.
“Nah.” Allistor placed a hand on the back of your neck and wrapped the other arm around your waist, bringing you closer and savouring your warmth. “You’re the kind one, really. You’ve just been rubbin’ off on me, silly girl.” His chin rested on top of your head, sending waves of content coursing through your system from the soothing position. “I used to be one stubborn little ass. You bring out the best in me.”
You chuckled weakly, bringing up a hand to wipe away leftover tears. “You’re still stubborn, you know.”
Allistor rolled his eyes. “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”
“And as sweet and considerate as ever. Your observance will be the death of me,” you added, laughing still. “But I suppose it helped me, in the end. You banished that little voice whispering to me that you secretly despised me for not having a child…”
He shifted slightly, gripping you to him. “Give it a kick up the ass for me. You don’t deserve to be told things like that. You’re perfect, (Name).”
Your cheeks filled with pink. “I’m far from it, really.”
Allistor smiled into your hair. “You’ll see it one day. But for now—” He suddenly pulled away and set his hands on your waist, grinning devilishly. “How about we try again? After all, there won’t be any kids if you keep resisting my advances.”
Your face darkened in colour, the pink slowly deepening to red. “N-Now?” you squeaked, drawing your arms up to your chest.
He chuckled. “Why not? S’long as you’re okay with it, I don’t see why we can’t. All this talk about children is making me wanna have one, you know.” His fingers curled around your waistline, drawing you closer to him. “What do you think?” he asked over his shoulder as he led you out of the living room, toward your shared bedroom. “Let’s bet on it. If it’s a girl, I’m saying she’ll have my hair and your pretty eyes. She’ll be more like me, fiery and sarcastic with an attitude. But if it’s a boy, I think he’ll have my eyes and your lovely hair. He’ll be just like you, though, kind and gentle and go running to you at the sign of trouble.”
You found yourself smiling as he talked, imagining the children he was picturing as well. “I think I’d name the girl Evelyn or Morgana, and the boy Arthur.”
Allistor groaned as he opened the door. “You’d name our son after that prick?”
“Of course,” you responded, a giggle escaping you. “Arthur might be a pain sometimes, but I think he’d be honoured to have a godson named after him. It’d deal his pride some sort of a blow, and remind him that we were kind enough to pick him instead of Dylan, or Seamus and Kane. Although Francis, Antonio, and Gilbert would be a bit let down, since they told me at the wedding they wanted to be part of the family somehow…”
“You want Arthur to be the godfather too?” Allistor said disbelievingly. For a moment, he stood there, then he sighed playfully. “I guess I’ll have to change your mind.”
“How are you going to do that?” you asked, a challenge in your eyes as you sat down on the bed.
Allistor shut and locked the door, then turned to face you, a smirk playing at his lips. “How do you think?” he shot back, stalking toward you slowly, anticipation showing clearly on his face.
You found yourself quivering, but even so you couldn’t help but tease him, “Eager, are we?”
Allistor smoothly climbed over you, that grin still on his face. “I can’t help it, you know—it’s been a while. But besides that, I just…I’m hopin’ that maybe today will be the day. The thought of a child with all of your wonderful attributes is temptin’ me now.” He leaned down and placed his lips at your ear, a genuine smile taking over his expression.
“…And I think that this time, we might get lucky.” He kissed your temple and added, “You’re gonna be a great mother, (Name).”