Amazing, I can't remember ever to have been responded so fast with a story before. Two favorites so soon, I call it a win with but one chapter. So thank you SO much for your support!
But let's get to it…Again as a reminder, this following entry contains historical references to religion and other matters that may not be accurate. But as I also need a break sometimes from relentless nitpickering with the background work of my content, let's just agree from this point forward everyhting is pure fanfiction aside for the events in the movie, yes? Hope you enjoy the story so far!
The Bishop's convoy had finally reached the outskirts of the Roman outpost and Artemisia could see the fortification to loom at the distance, letting her eyes roam about the high walls and the guards she saw positioned on top of them before she closed her eyes and faced the sky. To have the sunlight fondle her features and chase away the sense of fatigue at least for a moment, although she hadn't had to walk a single step ever since the continuation of their journey. The group eventually taking the road that went along the Hadrian Wall that spread far to the horizon, the girl not even being able to imagine its full size, as it had once been built to split the whole country in two. Only these kind of Roman settlements offering access between the northern and the southern Britain to those wishing to travel past the wall, or so it had been till the recent times. As in the near future this wall was to be left completely unguarded and anyone was free to pass the border without notice, allowing the Woads to venture even further south now that the Romans were planning a retreat.
Artemisia winced and released a half frustrated sigh as the baby shifted again, after hours of peace it once more disturbing their mother's train of thought. The child at times kicking her so hard especially during the nights that it made it impossible for her to catch a wink of sleep, taking notice of her anxiety Galahad looking down at her curiously as watched her to make calm circles around her stomach rather habitually.
"Are either of you unwell?"
Artemisia met the knight's gaze in surprise, not to have expected him to talk as during the whole journey they had hardly said anything to one another, her eventually just shaking her head at the young man upon seeing him to be eyeing at her hands resting on top of her baby belly in concern, him moving away his supporting arm. Her own focus as well returning back to the unborn child as a slight smile rose on her lips before she frowned upon feeling another kick, the latest actually causing her to flinch due to the power of it.
"Thank you for your consideration...I am well, the child has just been unusually restless these past days…" she replied, hearing the young knight to let out a low laugh as she then observed Galahad to make a small smirk, tilting his head in understanding.
"Aching to get out I assume, taken how far you are. I would be too if I had to stay enclosed to such a small and dark place for months", Galahad remarked, casting a brief amused look down at Artemisia but simply gazed forward again when he saw the girl to glance away uncomfortably. Him moving on by trying to lighten up the mood, not missing that the talk of her state made the young woman somewhat downcast even it would've been expected her to be practically glowing for the thought of carrying actual life inside her. "Although I'm not one to talk…I wasn't all that different, spending equal amount of time as a grievance to my own mother, before finally arriving to this world…And in fact she told me I wasn't in all that great of a hurry to be born, my birth delaying for a whole month until I decided to show myself."
"And the delivery went well?" Artemisia asked, quite overwhelmed and naturally fearful when the talk turned to the inescapable trial she had to go through in the near future, Galahad picking up the worry in her voice and paying heed to it by just shrugging at her inquiry.
"I might've waited several weeks more than normal newborns, but once the time came I hear me to have not wasted much time in dawdling further. Apparently it could've hardly been called childbirth, as so quickly it ended…"
Artemisia looked down, not helping but sigh yet again at her distressing ponders. Wondering how would it be like for her…whether it would be quick or should the labor last for hours, or would she be strong enough to go through with the whole ordeal. To be able to push out an actual person from within her, the thought of it feeling so ridiculous when she could feel the size of the baby. As so ignorant she wasn't that she didn't know how the child would be delivered, and she had heard that it wouldn't be painless, but could hurt tremendously. And perhaps that's what she was afraid of the most about it, the pain, which she had to withstand all on her own without anyone being able to relieve it. There of course were some herbs that helped to ease the process, but she had never used them nor could be sure her to be in a place where help or such niceties were at hand once her own delivery would start. She after all, like Galahad also had pointed out, was on the brink of giving birth. Artemisia therefore praying that the family estate of Accius wouldn't be far from this outpost they'd arrived to, because as she did have some kind of perception of the duration of the pregnancy, as far as she knew the birth could've commenced tomorrow. Her dearly hoping that not to happen, because as the days grew fewer and the final end of the long wait neared, the dread and the realization of her to soon to become a mother increased as quickly. Leaving her with that all too familiar confliction to how to cope up with the child once she would find herself holding it in her arms after such a long time of watching it take shape within her womb. Still not prepared for it.
"Thank you, once more, for offering me a chance to ride with you. I'm afraid I would've slowed you all down should have I been allowed to walk the rest of the way here", Artemisia said then after a curt silence, locking brief gazes with Galahad who nodded at her.
"We might be utter war-ridden brutes, but even we know when to show compassion", Galahad stated, his smile dying a tad as his expression turned slightly more serious. "I couldn't have acted otherwise. You should not exert yourself in your state in such a critical time."
Artemisia nodded at his words halfly, her taking in the greenest scenery she'd ever behold with her eyes before until she peeked at the knight again, feeling truly indebted to him as well. He had not only let her ride his horse, but during the voyage had taken extra precautions by not siccing the animal into too fast gallop, causing them to be left notably behind by the others until they'd finally caught up with them by the time they'd arrived to the fields that separated them from the main road following the Hadrian's Wall. While contemplating upon the young knight's indeed caring and considerate nature, his arm once more lightly circling her frame for protection, Artemisia soon noticing him to break into another joyful smile. Galahad glancing to their left in mirth.
"Your husband doesn't seem to like it all that much, though", he mused, confusing Artemisia who then instantly shifted herself on the saddle to turn to see Accius who was in fact close to leering at the sight of them mounted together on Galahad's steed. His hard eyes especially fixated onto the knight's arm that was keeping her from accidentally sliding down from the horse, while followed the group about a couple of feet away from them. Artemisia tipping her head at her lover before sent him a soothing smile, shaking her head again in denial.
"He's not my husband."
Galahad was surprised by Artemisia's response, frowning slightly as his eyes moved back to the Legionnaire and the presumed father of her child. Him filling with wonder again as like before he came to question why would the lad bring the girl to such a dangerous place, especially after putting her in such a state without even marrying her at any time they had been so far expecting. It however not being his place to judge other people and their deeds, as one look at Artemisia told him her to be fond of the young soldier regardless, him making a fleeting smile as he then lifted his eyebrows. Escaping the Roman boy's glares by gazing forward, the main gate of the outpost closing in on them all the while. Him falling into his thoughts until he finally made a small face of distaste, with a shake of his own head glancing over his shoulder at the Bishop's carriage.
"I don't like him", he confessed, Artemisia taking a peek at him before overheard him to finish his sentence, like before learning more about him and his fellow knights by simply listening. "That Roman. If he's here to discharge us, then why doesn't he just give us our papers?"
"Is this your happy face?" Gawain queried as looked over to Galahad incredulously, indeed also Artemisia finding the young man's mien somewhat sour at the moment as he peered back at his comrade, until he broke into a laugh with Bors. "Galahad, do you not still know the Romans? They won't scratch their asses without holding a ceremony."
"Why don't you just kill him?" Bors suggested, tantalising grin also playing on his lips as Artemisia directed a baffled look to his direction, witnessing the man to eye at Galahad remarkably. "And then discharge yourself after?"
"I don't kill for pleasure. Unlike some", Galahad replied, turning away from the burly man as his face fell for distaste, Artemisia thinking a moment until stole another peek at the knight sitting behind her, believing in those words by the adamant delivery of them and the look she saw in his eyes until they were cast down to her. Her swiftly turning her attention elsewhere as the conversation continued.
"Well you should try it someday, you may get a taste for it", Tristan cut in after leveling a brief measuring stare at his young comrade, Gawain reacting by letting out a doubtful chuckle. Galahad simply eyeing at Tristan grimly as it was Bors' turn to speak.
"It's part of you. It's in your blood", he insisted, for the delight of Artemisia Galahad shaking his head at his claim, proving her formed impression of the man not to be incorrect so far. Him expressing his denial with a series of chuckles of his own.
"As of tomorrow this was all just a bad memory", he remarked, his smile widening for anticipation that the long awaited time of their freedom brought him. His comrades naturally sharing his delight, but kept their satisfaction to the end of their fifteen years of service to themselves mostly, nevertheless not being able to hold their joy in completely once Galahad's ardor for the following day had reminded them of their own expectations now that the Bishop had safety arrived to proclaim them as free men. Bors now letting out a understanding utterance as Galahad encouraged his horse to side with Tristan's, Gawain soon taking the turn in the shortly paused exchange.
"I've often thought about what going home would mean after all this…What will I do?" he wondered, looking at Bors before beckoning to their youngest member of their cavalry. "It's different for Galahad…I've been in this life longer than the other. So much for home, it's not so clear in my memory."
Artemisia eyed at Galahad in interest until she turned her head to examine the rest of the knights, her spending a moment thinking about where did these men actually come from. The name Bishop Germanus had referred them with saying nothing to her, as even if the news of these famous warriors had reached the ears of Rome, they certainly wouldn't have found their way as the common knowledge of commoners like her who lived secluded life within temple walls. Had lived…She almost forgot that she could never go back to the life she'd left behind.
"Well, you speak for yourself", Bors replied, facing contemplative Gawain. "It's cold back there, and everyone I know is dead and buried…Besides, I have, I think, a dozen children…"
"Eleven", Gawain corrected, Artemisia's eyes widening a bit and she couldn't help but turn to gaze at the man she'd found so terrifying before in shock. Truth to be told astounded by the number of offspring he'd professed to have, saying it like it was nothing, but also by the fact that he'd in fact found a woman who had been willing to give birth to all of them. Out of wedlock no less, as she'd learned some time earlier Bors to be in a relationship with a woman called Vanora when his companions had teased the man about her reaction to his long absence, it also slipping that they weren't in fact married. Artemisia's mind not being able to wrap around the fact how the man spoke of these children so proudly, even previously calling them what they truly were, bastards…very much like her own child.
Artemisia's head hung for the truth of it, knowing her current situation to be no different, so she had no right to feel offended by the knight's apparent lack of concern over the fact that his children had all been born out of a relationship that hadn't consciously required marriage. However as she was so ashamed of the fact herself when it came to her, her simply not being able to believe the way the man brushed such verity off as if it was nothing to be concerned of.
"You listen, when the Romans leave here, we'll have to run this place", Bors continued, jabbing a finger towards Gawain before he beckoned towards the nearby fortification, his words coming out confidently, telling his comrades that he truly put faith in the devisement that he now revealed to his fellow knights. "I'll be the governor in my own village, and Dagonet will be my personal guard and a royal ass-kisser, won't you Dag?"
Dagonet said not a word in response, the other knights simply shaking their heads at Bors' plans in amusement, Gawain then looking to the sky in designs of his own. Smile soon creeping on his lips.
"First thing I will do when I get home is to find myself a beautiful Sarmatian woman to wed", he countered, Bors lifting his eyebrows at him in disbelief.
"A beautiful Sarmatian woman? Why do you think we left there in the first place?"
Gawain let out a laugh at Bors' answer as the man proceeded by producing a grunting sound that reminded Artemisia of an utterance of a bull, although she couldn't quite understand the meaning behind his remark, her feeling somewhat abashed upon hearing it. Looking down shortly as listened to the men's laughter, Bors soon addressing Lancelot who'd ridden by his and Gawain's side.
"What about you Lancelot, what are your plans for home?"
"Well if this woman of Gawain's is as beautiful as he claims, I expect to be spending a lot of time in Gawain's house", the dark haired knight replied curtly, jeering smirk lifting the corners of his lips upward as Artemisia peeked at him in turn. Watching him and Gawain to lock brief gazes as felt her cheeks to flush for embarrassment at the sound of the man's following words. "His wife will welcome the company."
"I see. And what will I be doing?" Gawain questioned, inclining his head at the smiling Lancelot who lifted an eyebrow, looking somewhat smug.
"Wondering at your good fortune that all your children look like me."
Bors let out a guffaw, bringing the conversation to another curt halt as Lancelot rode on. Artemisia blinking awkwardly at the men's not at all subtle way of bringing up such sensitive topics that usually weren't deemed proper to be discussed so publicly, yet alone to be jested about so thoughtlessly. Her feeling a fleeting sting of remorse as what Lancelot had just said after all stroke a cord in her, a fearful one and she squeezed the fabric of her robe distressed as she heard Gawain to finally answer.
"Is that before or after I hit you with my axe?"
Artemisia's attention was now drawn by the sharp whistle that had left Tristan's lips, her gaze rising and eventually picking up movement on her left and she looked to the sky. For her surprise seeing a falcon that was soaring towards them until eventually flew down to Tristan who was waiting for the bird his arm held up high, as summoned the majestic animal setting itself on his forearm obediently, Artemisia blinking at the sight. This was her first time seeing a predator such as that falcon to be in so friendly terms with a human, yet alone being commanded by one. Her eventually sending the pair a small wondering smile as heard the man to start to talk to the bird as if it were indeed another human, petting its feathers.
Artemisia whipped her head around at the sound of Accius' voice, her now watching the lad to walk over to Galahad's horse, and with a fleeting hard glance leveled up to the knight, he next raised his hand to grasp the girl's own. Smile slowly forming on his lips as well as Artemisia's, her letting out a sigh before for the surprise of Galahad she offered him a small smile too before dismounting. Galahad trying to stop the horse for nothing as she was already back on her feet with the help of the Legionnaire, her nevertheless facing him again to give him her final thanks. Her intended express of gratitude however remaining as a sole nod when Galahad saw the lad's expression to harden the moment he returned the girl's smile, Galahad blinking after the young man in doubt upon earning another scowl from him and watched him yank Artemisia to him. With a low cluck of his tongue Galahad encouraging his horse to join the rest of its kind in the convoy as Artemisia looked to Accius in wonder as well, confused.
"He was just being considerate of me, if that's what upsets you so", she spoke, Accius snorting at her response, the least agreeing.
"So do all men who want to get close to attractive women. Trust me Artemisia, I know his type, and you should stay away from him. From them. They're born killers. They've done nothing in their lives but slain at the command of their leader. That is why they are so feared in Rome."
"Did you not admire Commander Castus?" Artemisia asked, gazing over at Arthur who was riding at the lead of the group. "Besides I don't think they seem all that dangerous when one sees past their exterior of a famed warrior…"
"You're not to go near them again, do you hear me?"
Artemisia returned her befuddled eyes to Accius, his tense bearing confusing her as she didn't know the cause for it, her however only forgetting it when his hand then clasped hers. With a sweet smile given to him Artemisia leaning her head on his shoulder as they continued along the road on foot, keeping up with the slowly advancing convoy easily.
"And what will you do, Arthur, when you return to your beloved Rome?" Lancelot inquired from their Commander out of the blue, meeting his gaze as Arthur confronted his interested stare.
"Give thanks to God that I survived to see it."
"You and your god! You disturb me."
"I want peace, Lancelot. I've had enough…You should visit me."
Artemisia gazed towards the Commander and his what it appeared most trusted knight who released a disinclined snort by the sound of Arthur's proposal, shaking his head where his leader smiled a little while recalling the city of greatness that had been etched to his memory. Although she also came to hold more respect towards this notorious Commander respected throughout the Empire upon hearing his expressed wish for peace, Artemisia however not concurring with everything the man said then, knowing the truth that separated the reality from Arthur's clear utopian perceptions about the center city of the Roman rule. Much had changed in Rome, and clearly Arthur hadn't been there in a very long time to witness them to still regard the city so fondly. And what she gathered from the knights' previous conversation neither he appeared to have indeed set foot in Rome for over a decade.
"It's a magnificent place, Rome", Arthur started, longing in his voice but more importantly pride over the grandeur of the city. "Ordered, civilized, advanced…"
"A breeding ground of arrogant fools?" Lancelot offered, ghost of a smile visiting his lips as he glanced over at Arthur who ignored his comment, where Artemisia found his words easier to advocate than Arthur's.
"The greatest minds in all the lands have come together in one sacred place…to help to make the man kind free."
Artemisia shook her head, truly not agreeing with the Commander about his false ideas about Rome he saw as a place that was but to be admired and honored. Sure, Romans preferred to speak of an organized, just nation that valued education and culture above everything. Luring indeed many savants and other equally civilized considered people to enjoy the wonders the city offered to its people, where for example the religious dominance lied with Christianity these days, and the once important, so called pagan religions that had always been part of Rome's identity were snookered and outright forbidden even on the pain of death. Only the largest and most supported temples honoring the ancient Roman Gods enduring under the tyrannical edict made by the current Emperor and the Pope that declared Catholism as the one and only approved religion. Artemisia's old temple being one of them, but she as well as her other sisters at the time had known not even their Goddess to be able to protect her supporters against the ever rising religious persecution…proof of such discrimination in beliefs visible even here in Britain. Christians still inhabiting the area regarding the gods of the natives with malign, hence making their worshippers mere blasphemers of the one God that existed to them. Was such pursued inequality freedom? Artemisia didn't think so, and she would never turn away from her Goddess in favor of Christianity that was as foreign to her as the child she was expecting…And so didn't the six knights of Arthur's who all had been listening to their Commander's depiction of Rome with similar disbelief as Lancelot had.
"And the women?" Lancelot asked after a brief moment of thought, his smile widening as Arthur returned it upon hearing the low laughter that rose from the incredulous knight's chest. The men now driving their horses into a canter and soon Artemisia and Accius were after all left behind, the girl's eyes rising to stare at the retreating back of Galahad as she thought about what Accius had said to her about him and his comrades before. Were they really such bad men as he viewed them as? The little she'd come to know about Galahad seemed to contradict such allegation, and she couldn't help but to argue against it. That short moment she'd ridden along with him he hadn't appeared but a kind man at heart, regardless of all he'd done in his years of service. Just like Accius. He wasn't a sinister man although for the past few years he'd served in the army, possibly killing equal amount of men he accused Arthur's knights to have slain and sent to the Gods. And still she cared for him, wasn't afraid of him. Because she saw the other side of him, the side that she loved.
The convoy finally entered the gates and the knights arrived to the large area left within the wall that consisted of all the barracks and Arthur's as well as his men's acommodations once another set of gates were opened for the returned Commander and his men. By the magnitude of it the fortification looking like including everything Artemisia could imagine to be found from a military outpost housing thousands of men at best. Her and her lover walking through the entrance right behind the Bishop's carriage, and followed it all the way to the courtyard of Arthur's presumed residence. Smaller houses and the rest of the premises given to the servants and the families of the soldiers to use naturally situated also within the Hadrian's Wall, close by to the Lord's residence, several children and other people emerging from the nearby tavern and shops scattered about the two clearings that covered almost the whole yard reaching to the other side of the outpost. Small cluster of stalls that reminded of a makings of a market siding the passageway that led to the main estate. Artemisia and Accius approaching the wagon and halting near the household, when the carriage came to a stop and Bishop Germanus appeared from within, eyeing at the surroundings where a Roman officer stepped forward to greet him his hand held up high in respect. Arthur's knights dismounting their steeds as Arthur and Lancelot were in turn welcomed home by Arthur's adjutant and personal servant Jols.
"Bishop, please, my personal quarters have been made available to you", Arthur announced after following his men's example by sliding down from the saddle, beckoning towards the front door, although the Bishop was already making his way inside without an actual invitation. Considering such indication of respect self-evident taken his esteemed station in Rome and not only there, the man making a half smile but hardly turned towards his host while passed him.
"Oh, yes. I must rest."
Artemisia turned around to eye at the house towering above her, feeling somewhat nervous at the face of the evident splendor of it that could've only continued within, giving the air of how important man Arthur Castus in fact was himself. She had always been poor, stemming from as unprovided family which had been one of the main reasons she'd been committed and brought up in one of the temples of Forum Romanum from the age of seven, so recalling Arthur's promise of her and Accius to be a given a place to spend the night in the actual manor felt very unreal to the girl. She'd never known such luxury after all, and wasn't still expecting much. Accius' lineage might've entitled him to such treatment, but she was but an unpretentious girl who would've been happy with a simple haystack to sleep in.
"Where have you been?"
Artemisia's attention was awoken and she turned around to see Bors to be standing in front of a woman with a long, flowing reddish hair. Behind her the girl seeing a flock of children all of different ages, every pair of eyes focused on the brawny knight where the woman was staring at the man with a vexed expression. Artemisia making the connection as she now watched Bors to be slapped by the woman, realizing the truth even further when after a brief heated spouting of frustrated words she was then grabbed by the knight and kissed. So passionately that it caused the observing young woman to blush, Artemisia finally gazing elsewhere with nevertheless sightly heavy heart upon seeing the woman wrap her arms around his neck. Her eyes dropping to stare at her stomach once more when she next spied the man to pick one of his assumed sons in his arms, before the other circled the woman after waving at the rest of the children to follow. Artemisia beholding the joy of the reunited family and not being able to deter a frown, thinking would her own regard towards the illegitimacy of her child ever turn to such indifference, even Accius' and her situation was to differ from that knight and his ladylove's in a way that they were to wed before the birth of the baby to change that. Thus taking away some of the shame the child was to carry in the future due to the fact that she had not been pure upon marrying, in that moment her actually envying that family's ability to accept their profanity that such extramarital life was often viewed by others…but frankly so did she. Her not finding it in her regretful heart to redeem herself so easily to upon to have allowed something like this to have occurred…
The sound of Accius' voice calling Artemisia's name brought her back from her ponders again and she felt his fingers to wrap around her arm, guiding her forward and all the way to the entrance once Jols had been instructed by his master do show the young couple to their promised quarters for the night. Them indeed receiving a whole room for themselves, and it appeared that the quite clear fact of them being unmarried didn't seem to raise any questions nor resentment in Arthur's household as no one hadn't even tried to offer them separate ones. Of course their quarters limiting to a single rather small room at the more secluded part of the house, furnished with mere necessities, but it was more than sufficient for them when they weren't going to stay as Arthur's house guest but one night. Artemisia once more thanking the Commander's generosity in her heart as she sat upon the middle sized bed, releasing a tired sigh before next laid down onto the bedding. Feeling herself exhausted, however not gaining a chance to fall asleep as a knock sounded from the door and she and Accius watched a woman to enter. It appearing Jols to have arranged a small meal to have been brought for them as well as some milk for the young mother. Artemisia deciding to leave her nap for later after they had dined, the child naturally protesting as if reading their mother's mind, kicking against her when the girl stood and joined Accius at the table the food had been served. Her patting her stomach patiently as smiled down at the bulge, realizing that the baby's uneasiness could've also been caused by hunger they both must've been feeling at the moment. Therefore Artemisia taking upon herself to make herself eat a bit more, not to have after all bring damage to the child's health with malnourishment, when for the past few days they'd eaten but scarce amount of berries and roots found from the forest. The couple of rabbits Accius had managed to hunt with traps not either to have carried the youth far before their stomachs had started to growl for ever rising hunger, therefore it not taking long when the entirety of the half of the roasted chicken and the bread had been devoured and weary by the journey the lovers settled onto the cot. Into each other's arms, drifting to deep sleep soon after and not waking in many hours.
Accius rolled onto his back with a deep content sigh. Sweeping the golden strands that had stuck to his forehead out of his face as he closed his eyes briefly, smile spreading on his lips upon feeling his whole body to relax for the prevailing sensation of pleasure. Artemisia covering herself with the sheets as as well closed her eyes while followed his cue by turning over, in addition to the similar reaction to their previous moment of intimacy however feeling herself mostly mortified and strange, still not all that accustomed to share her body with anyone. Not even with a man she trusted. Still her then simply smiling and turning her head towards Accius who looked like to have fallen back in sleep, nevertheless him also stirring when the girl's fingers moved over to smooth his cheek. The lad grasping her hand and bringing her arm behind his back as with a wide, alluring smile he rose. Bending down to kiss Artemisia, deeper than she either was used to which confused her curtly, in throes of his desire Accius jerking away the sheet that separated his skin from hers. Not yet satisfied enough, unable to control himself any further, as the yearning for her still had not been even close vanquished. His hand sliding over her stomach behind her upper back as he prepared to move on top of her, his lips separating from Artemisia's to search the every bend of her body from her neck to her chest. The girl squirming under him a little while wearing an uneasy smile as his fervor seemed but to increase when he pressed against her, a bit too eagerly to her liking.
"Accius…We just finished", she said, the lad however paying no mind to her subtle protest as his lips brushed over hers. His smile not fading as he pulled away an inch, his hands rising to smooth her shoulders coaxingly.
"Don't be like that. You haven't let me touch you properly in months…I miss you", Accius whispered, as a proof of his words detectable hunger in his voice but Artemisia only shifted away from him once he attempted to continue with his intent, his caresses turning more zealous. The girl shaking her head at him as after one more kiss she gently pushed him off her, meeting his baffled eyes but sincerity and plead in hers, while her own palms set on top of her midriff remarkably.
"Please, Accius. You know I can't comply to you. Not yet" she told him, clearly not pleasing him with her disinclination to be more bold with their endearments, and the lad eyed at her in dismay for a moment. Artemisia stroking his temple as smiled at him. "You just have to be patient."
"Are you concerned about the baby, or more of yourself?" Accius questioned with a sigh, out of the blue retreating from on top of Artemisia and she sat up in confusion, watching the young man to stand. Suddenly lost of all his previous craving for intimacy that to that day had become very rare for them…ever since Artemisia had told him to have become pregnant not long after their first night together.
"What?" Artemisia stated, baffled, not following Accius' reaction as she was left to watch the Legionnaire start to dress himself. The girl glancing outside to see the darkness that had fallen during the hours spent in their room, however feeling but surprisingly happy herself Artemisia now setting herself back under the covers. All sense of tiredness gone and she was but relaxed, her eyeing at Accius from behind, who instead didn't give her a single glance. As the silence continued uninterrupted her wonder then taking the best of Artemisia.
"Where are you going? It's already dark."
"I'm hungry. And I think I need something to drink as well", the young man responded curtly, Artemisia smiling at him shortly as the lad then did turn around. On his way to the door halting once he noticed Artemisia's expectant stare, when it lasted Accius' letting out another sigh and kneeling onto the bed again upon seeing her rise. Placing a quick kiss on her forehead, Artemisia looking down briefly as he hadn't claimed her lips as she'd expected. "I won't be long. Are you in need of anything?"
"The servant woman was kind enough to provide me with all that I need, so I…"
Artemisia blinked as the door shut behind Accius before she had managed to finish her sentence, with mixed feelings Artemisia thinking about the reason behind Accius' unexpectedly so indignant behavior. His odd and abruptly more distinct reaction to her refusal to take their physical interaction farther than prudish coupling performed with utmost caution not making sense to her. And although she did understand why the lad had seemed so upset by it, as it was true she hadn't allowed him to touch her much during the time of her pregnancy, he should've also seen such action unwise until the birth of the baby. After all he didn't have to wait much longer until it would happen, and then…she had no more reason to refuse his needs only she could fulfill for him.
Artemisia didn't deny that she didn't find such relations with men anything but daunting, and perhaps it was but natural as so inexperienced she still was. But even during the few tries Accius had bed her before, mostly it had hurt, and although the pain had turned into satisfaction in time, the whole action still felt rather embarrassing to her. The truth being that from the times she'd been with him it had been Accius who'd enjoyed it more, the secrets of intimacy not any more cleared out to the girl, who was supposed to keep him content. But that didn't mean she wasn't ready, or didn't wish to try to discover a way to do that. And soon she would be free to do so wholeheartedly without having to push her beloved away, her only wish being to please him in exchange of his love he'd given her. As a token of her own, it being the only thing she could do to repay the protection and joy he'd brought for her by staying with her. Agreeing to take care of her child…
Artemisia refused to think about the baby's involvement to their relationship and the upsetting notions it brought forth from her memory, after laying in the sheets utterly listless for some time her deciding to be in need of some fresh air herself, stretching down stiffly to recover the first article of her clothing before rising to fetch the rest Accius had tossed all over the room after waking her from their nap. Her smiling as she momentarily stopped by the chair onto the lad had left his armor after removing it, her fingertips tracing the patterns and decorations on it before she couldn't resist resting that same hand on her stomach. Pensive.
Accius was all she had left of her past. And the thought of it made her anxious about what was to come and whether they were going to ever arrive to the Honorius estate safely, and most of all what she was going to do if something would happen in the days that followed. Her sitting back onto the bed momentarily, distraught. Praying for her beloved Vesta that not to be the case, pleading the great Goddess to keep them safe.