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 Dear foxling, Sophia & Esmund
Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 20 2014, 01:41 PM
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The wayward traveller could not rid himself of the lump in his throat, his stomach in a mess of knots and beads of sweat on his forehead. Even his horse, who he have had for a short time now can sense his nervousness and since he is now a expecting father…who can blame him?

It isn’t just that though, its meeting Sophia again after they parted ways in winterfell, even though he had not got too soppy about missing her, he had kept in contact via letters by the raven but he had not replied to Sophia’s last letter, the letter that reveals that she’s pregnant with his child, that he is given a choice. Raise the child with her, or let her abort the child.

He won’t lie; having a child was never part of his plans. He didn’t reply to the letter but somehow found himself riding for the army camp where she is stationed. He exhaled the breath he had been holding and embarked down the hill towards the healers tent, he had asked for Sophia but was only told the location of the healers tent so he went there, left his horse tied up nearby and ducked into the tent only to be greeted with jars of human pieces, no doubt for studying, and blood…quite a bit of blood actually. Oh and tools of course. Is this where he really going to meet Sophia? To settle his nerves he took a seat, grabbed the bottle of cheap wine and poured himself a glass .

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 20 2014, 05:00 PM
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Days went by since that tiny piece of parchment departed in the hands of a Northern scout. They were long and tiresome, and with each restless night the fair healer found herself nearing an edge. Those around her took notice, for not only did her face see paler, she lost the precision of her stitches and the concentration to mix her medicine - though it could be questioned if it was caused by her swelling belly, or the stress that came with the truth. Her mornings were plagued by nausea, the afternoons with headaches and nights with a soreness in her breasts. There was no mistake about it now. Sophia had known it for some time, and each day confirmed whatever doubts remained.

A weary hand rested on her still flat belly, as it always did whenever her mind returned to the small creature warmly nestled in her womb. Such a strange thought that so small a thing could change so much, could change everything. Yet it did not mean that it would. In two days time, the creature could be gone. Her body would ache like never before, she would bleed and feel sickly, but she would be rid of it. And if not, in the time of six moons, she could lie in bed cradling a beautiful child, suckling a breast that was now so sore. Sophia did not know at all what she desired. She was at a loss, alone and frightened. She needed him.

It was late in the day when the traveller graced the healing tent with his presence. The sun was beginning to set, the tent abandoned safe for shadowy figures behind a curtain that separated a section for surgical procedures. There were faint whispering voices, two female and one male, accompanied by the unpleasant groans of a man that sounded like he was on the brink of life and death. It was not at all a setting for the reunion to come. As daylight left the tent, a candle was lit behind the curtain and the shadows became clearer. One woman appeared to have her hands deeply in the patient's torso, and judging by the sound of flesh being cut, perhaps it was for the better that the curtain was there.

"Dear boy, you look as if it is you back there," A voice suddenly broke the silence, but it did not belong to Sophia nor to any of the healers in the tent. An older woman stood by the tent's entrance, grey eyes glancing over Esmund's obvious discomfort and worry, and gave a kind smile, "You're him?" The woman questioned, as if she knew exactly who the traveller was, while in truth they never met. Sophia knew her, however. They had spoken many times, and in private she had described the father of her unborn child; handsome, with dark curled hair and short beard, a strong jaw and chestnut eyes. A brave man, a good man, "You best take gentle care of her," The woman told Esmund as she walked across the tent and disappeared behind the curtain. Shadows stilled as they spoke in hushed voices. One was higher than the rest, yet soft and gentle, with the unmistakable accent of the Northern lands. It sounded different, however; not as strong as it once was, instead meeker and obedient.

Not moments later, one shadow grew larger and a hand moved aside the cloth that separated the two. A hand absent one finger. At the sight of him, Sophia froze, the curtain falling shut behind her. Even in the dim light, she could easily recognize him. For a second she doubted she would ever forget his face. She approached slowly, dressed in a light blue dress and apron that bore vulgar stains of blood and other bodily fluids. Her hands were equally stained, but she wiped them quickly as she moved closer. She did not know what to expect, how would he react to the sight of her? The fear and uncertainty were clear on her face, "Esmund..." Sophia finally managed to speak, uttering his name in a nervous tone that ought not belong to a woman once so strong, "'Tis good to see you..."

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 20 2014, 06:49 PM
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He wasn’t fond of healer tents, you would think a traveller like Esmund would be used to death and the agony of others but the truth is he isn’t. He tends to avoid situations like that and put it to the back of his mind, so hearing the groans of anguish.

Suddenly a soft broke the awkward silence and his train of thoughts, but it wasn’t the voice he had been expecting ot hear, instead it was a stranger but not to him apparently. He shifted his brown eyes to her, uncertainty clear in them. “Yes…” he replied indefinitely, has Sophia mentioned him to this woman? How much does she know? Surely Sophia wouldn’t confine in someone so easily…but apparently she has as more or less ordered him to look after the red-haired lady. “E-emm yes…madam.” said the raven-haired man, nervousness in his voice. The truth is he doesn’t know what he will decide to do today, what course of action he will take…but he does know he must speak to Sophia concerning this…problem.

He straightened himself out and stood with his posture straight, combed back his hair and placed both hands behind his back. His stance reminds him of his father now that he thinks about it. He shifted his gaze to various ornaments in the tent, suddenly finding them interesting. His nervousness further increased as he heard Sophia’s voice, he exhaled the breath of air he been holding in and faced her, worry etched on his face just like her but he masked it with a smile extending across his face in order to decrease the nervousness between them. “Hello foxling.” Greeted the man, his eyes travelling down her garments, again he exhaled a sigh “I’d hug you but I rather not get blood on me.” Which is true, he really doesn’t want to be stinking of foul smells. “And indeed, good to see you…” he answered her, awkwardness clear between them. “Can we move this somewhere else? We have much to discuss.”


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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 21 2014, 06:02 AM
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Meeting him again since the truth was revealed was completely different than the healer had expected. But what had she expected? A warm embrace, a kiss, a quick decision? No, of course not. She knew that things would change between them, but she could not have prepared herself in any way to face those painful changes. Yet he smiled at her and called her by the nickname only he used. A poor excuse of a smile plucked at the corners of Sophia's rosy lips, as forced as it possibly could be. While it was a well-meant gesture from Esmund's part to decrease the tension between them, it only seemed to heighten it. He looked just as nervous as her, just as uncertain and scared as her. And it brought her little comfort.

The young healer held his gaze but did not reply to his words. There was a time when Esmund did not seem to care for blood at all, but who was she to compare his past and present self? What was she supposed to say to the denial of a much-needed embrace? Perhaps he was angry with her but did not dare show it here. Sophia's blue eyes cast downwards and silently doubted that he was indeed glad to see her, or she him. "Yes..." She answered at last, her voice quiet and full of doubt. Before she made any motion to leave, she turned and fiddled with the knot at her back that held her apron in place. She removed it with little difficulty, still possessing those skilled fingers even if she could no longer perform the skill they were meant to do. Tossing the bloodied apron in a basket - surprisingly, she had managed to keep her blue dress clean of blood - she gestured for Esmund to follow, "Please, come," She told him gently.

The walk towards her tent seemed agonizingly long. Sophia could not walk so fast, exhausted by the day's work and by the idea of what was to come. Her tent stood at the bottom of the hill, near the healing tent and amongst those of other healers and high-ranked soldiers. There was hardly another woman in sight, only men lurked outside their tents, joking and gambling. The tent was small, but big enough to house everything Sophia needed. She entered within looking back at Esmund. It was dark inside, the few candles Sophia lit did not change that. There was a bed - it did not look at all comfortable, more like it would break the back of any expecting mother that slept there - a small desk with chair and a water basin hidden by a leather screen. A tray stood on the desk, holding a bowl of stew that had obviously gone cold, a piece of bread and a mug of dark ale. It seemed that the healer was decently looked after.

"If you are hungry, please," Sophia muttered with a weak gesture towards the food on her desk, then quickly disappeared behind the leather screen before another word was said. There was a sound of water, used to wash her hands and face. The cold water shook her awake, but did not do much to calm her nerves. Her eyes lingered on her reflection in the water. She did not look like herself at all, so troubled, so tired, "I am sorry," Sophia finally said, the first of many apologies that night. Drying her hands and face, she returned to Esmund, her fingers plucked nervously at the cloth in her hands, "I did not know what to do..."

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 21 2014, 03:38 PM
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The wanderer observed the red head cautiously, she is obviously tired and the days haven’t been kind to her. She seems just as nervous as him, rife with fear and uncertainty and it didn’t do Esmund’s heart any good to know that he is partly to blame for that. He wanted to say that he can sort this…that he has a plan, but he doesn’t. This isn’t something he can fix straight away.

He shifted his feet uncomfortably, unlike Sophia he didn’t keep his gaze locked with hers for long and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t look at her properly, perhaps because he was afraid. That his subconscious is protecting him from disappointment, after all it isn’t like he’s absolutely sure that the creature Sophia is carrying within her womb is his, it could be Beodulf’s for all he knows…and just thinking about that blonde oaf made him shudder.

He followed Sofia without another word accepts a grunt of approval. On the way he was silent as well, his mind frantically looking for something to say but nothing came to mind. Briefly he wondered how Sophia managed to survive in a camp of men. Of course there are other female healers but still he heard the stories, how men will enjoy the sensual company of healers before battle.

When they arrived he ducked inside the tent and let his eyes wander around with mild curiouisity, well its definitely a step up from her usual living conditions he give her that but still he wonders if Sophia ever thinks back to their night together in Barrowton. “No it’s fine.” He answered her as he folded his arms and leaned against the tent post “I’m not hungry.” Said he as he politely declined, he doesn’t have much of an appetite. “It’s ok.” He reassured her with a sigh and a weary smile before it disappeared “Are you sure it’s mine?” questioned the man, subconsciously biting on his lower lip as he hinted at what occurred in the bandit fortress.

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 21 2014, 04:43 PM
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Despite the situation they were in, the traveller still tried to hide his own nervousness and lift the healer's spirits. Under any other circumstances, his words would have been soothing. Not this time. Sophia shook her dainty head, smiling bitterly at his meagre words of comfort. She may be naïve at times, but she was not so foolish to believe that things would be okay so easily, "'Tis not okay..." She whispered, her voice barely audible. Slowly, she made her way to the bedroll and sat down in the cushions. She did not meet his eyes, instead stared down at her hands as if they held the answer. A deep sigh slipped from her lips, "None of this is okay..."

Her thoughts wandered back to how this came to be, how they first laid together in Barrowton. It was a night Sophia would not forget, followed by joyful days full of passion. She regretted none of it, even missed it. Of course then she could have never predicted that she would carry a babe as a result. Any women would call her a fool, but while they bled with every moon and anticipated children, Sophia had been rid of that possibility long ago. What was this then? A miracle child? The one and only chance at having a child? Sophia closed her eyes at the mere thought, unsure of how to feel. Perhaps she should be happy and grateful. Even if she was, deep down, then it was suppressed by fear. But Esmund knew nothing of that past, nor did she wish for him to know. It was already a shame.

A single question then came from him, a dreadful question that had her eyes shoot open in a hurtful, shocked look. She did not know what to say for a moment, struggling to find her voice. Her face went pale at the thought. She knew what he was hinting at, that the child belonged to the man that made her his slave - the man that forced himself inside of her day after day and nearly killed her in the end. No, this baby could not belong to him, "T-that was... w-weeks before you and I..." Sophia stammered, desperate to rid herself of that doubt. Surely if it was, she would have known sooner. She would have felt it earlier. Almost ashamed, Sophia lowered her head to avert her gaze, "I cannot believe you would ask me that," She spoke more calmly now, but it was clear that he may have crossed a line, "It cannot be his, it just cannot be..."

A silence filled the tent. Sophia sat pondering on what to tell him. He doubted her, and he should. She could not blame him. She was once a whore, after all. Suddenly, her lips formed in a tense smile, "I have not been with any other man since you," She whispered and took a deep breath. At last, she looked back up at him, pleadingly, "Esmund, if you do not want it, then tell me and be done with it..."

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 21 2014, 06:21 PM
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His smile softened at he noticed Sophia’s plight, while he is thankful-even though its selfish- that he isn’t in her position, to be carrying a child, a bastard in his belly. The responsibility would be too much and the shame of it…no he can’t handle such a circumstance. And yet, he finds himself wondering what- if it’s his- the child will look like, what’s its personality will be and if perhaps, he’ll truly be better father to the little one than his father ever was. There was nothing more he could say, and how can he? He can’t promise her things he doesn’t have the heart to follow through on.

He had never envisioned this, to meet Sophia carrying his babe. He had thought he’ll meet her again someday where she is happier and comforter, not afraid and meek. This pregnant lass before him seems like a far cry from the confident and headstrong woman he knew back in Barrowton, whom had such ambitious desires like he.

He inhaled a breath of air as the hairs on his neck stood on end as soon as he saw how his question pierced Sophia, she looks so shocked. So hurt by his words that he had to wait for her to regain her voice. He already felt guilty for questioning her, but it needed to be said even though it was cruel of him. He searched her face for any giveaway that she has doubts of her own, for he doubts she would deceive him. In the short time he had known Sophia he knows her well enough to understand that she is not those types of vixens or any vixen really.

“I’m sorry.” Apologised the man as he averted his gaze “But I needed to ask.” And he need to, better to get the question of the way rather than let his doubts build up. The quietness came upon them again, and Esmund hurried for something else to say before Sophia beat him to it. He frowned in concern “Do not leave me to make the decision.” Said the male, clearly he didn’t want to be the one to decide. Again he sighed and shook his head “I’m still in shock Sophia, so you’ll forgive me if my head is still in a mush.” He sighed again; the solution was laid before him. He could tell Sophia he does not desire the child…yet to do such a thing would be the highest form of cruelty. To deny Sophia a child, but then again neither of them have the means to have a child…to raise one together. And could he really? Could he really raise a child? All his life since from the age of sixteen he had been going back a forth without much of a direction, just taking life as it comes and making his own adventures…so to be faced with this…well how could he not be afraid?

Plus, in the eyes of the kingdoms, the child that developing in Sophia’s womb is a bastard. And bastardy is a strain on a house, and a burden on the parents. So if his child were to enter the world, that little one would be shamed before the babe can even walk. He lets out a breath and rubbed the bridge of his nose and sat down before looking back up. He could do with a beverage right now. “Neither of us have the means to care for a child, no house or stable income between either of us.” He spoke, his voice calm and steady and the voice of reason. “The child would be a bastard, both of us know what the consequences will be for the child.” He carried on and let his eyes drop “And yet…” and then he lifted them again “Despite all rational reasons to free ourselves of this babe…I want this child Sophia.” Confessed the male and it was true, conflicted as he may his heart felt heavy with the thought of aborting the unborn child. He rose to his feet, approached Sophia and cupped her hand and planted a quick kiss on the back of her hand “I may not know what future lies ahead of us, but I will find a way to look after the child, the both of you.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 22 2014, 05:42 AM
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Would it be better if this babe was not Esmund's, if it was merely the result of rape and not a bastard child? The more she thought about it, as disgusted as she felt, perhaps the answer to that question was 'Yes'. There was shame in rape and the children were looked down upon, but it was not as bad as the treatment of bastard children. They were shunned and put down, would never be able to learn a decent trade because of their name. The mothers were branded harlots, unaccepted by the kingdom. To be the mother of a bastard was nearly as bad as being a bastard child. It would doom the both of them to a life beyond cruel. And yet, Sophia found herself thinking, if she were to have a babe, she would not want it to be anyone else's.

How much this babe was changing her, after only several weeks, was hard to believe. She could no longer think only of herself, there was someone else to consider. Someone she was responsible for, someone she ought to care for. It was nature's will that a mother should love her child from the very first day. But could she really? Sophia was just as conflicted as her companion. Frightened, she wished nothing more than to be rid of this creature, if only to be rid of the responsibility and the shame. She knew very well what awaited her if she did not. And yet, despite that, she often thought of what could be, of what it would be like to have a family, to have a little child call her 'Mother', and to love that child more than she had ever loved anyone. Unconditional love. Sophia never thought she might have a chance at a normal life, that she would never have a family. And now that she did have that chance, fear stood in the way of ever achieving it.

Esmund's apology was hardly accepted. He was right, he did need to ask and he had a right to, but she felt naught but anger at him for questioning her honesty. When he confessed that he was still in shock, words slipped from her mouth before she could stop them, rudely interrupting him mid-sentence, "As am I!" She exclaimed harshly, and immediately regretted it. She let out a shaky breath and offered him an apologetic look before averting her gaze completely. Her blue eyes saw watery, as if she held back tears. She never meant to yell at him, it was wrong. This was not a time to fight.

Catching a glimpse of movement from across the tent, she risked a glance at him, just in time to see him sit down on the floor. She contemplated asking him to sit beside her on the bed, but unsure if she wanted him close, she didn't. Maybe it was better to keep some distance, at least then she could think rationally. Sophia didn't reply to Esmund's musing. He was right, she knew he was. They couldn't care for a babe, couldn't provide for it, and whatever life it had would be horrible. It wasn't fair. Sophia slowly nodded, silently agreeing with her ex-lover. But what he said next surprised her. Sophia looked up, studying his face to make sure she had heard it right. He wanted this child? He wanted her baby? Dumbstruck, she couldn't speak. She didn't know if she should be happy or not, if she should give in or not. She only stared at him as he approached and managed the smallest of smiles when he touched and kissed her hand. It had been so long since he'd touched her.

"I cannot force you into this. I cannot make you look after us and be a father if you do not want to be," Sophia answered carefully. No matter what he had just said, she couldn't help but feel guilty that he was in this situation because of her. Cautiously, she took hold of his hand, testing what still remained of his affections, "Things would never be the same. We would not have the freedom we have now, no opportunities to travel. We would have to earn coin so that our child could have a decent life," It was true, surely Esmund realized this. But he was a man that thrived on freedom, did he understand the extent of this responsibility? Sophia looked up at him with dewy eyes, trying to stay strong, "Part of me does not have the heart to bring it into this world. It's cold and cruel, and it would never have a normal life only because its mother is not of noble birth," With a sad shake of her head, she whispered the truth, "'Tis no life for a child..."

There was something else he needed to know, even if she did not want to tell him. With a lump in her throat, she stood up from the bed, partially using the support of his grip on her hand; she had little strength left. She released his hand and wandered across the tent, pacing nervously. After several moments, she stopped and faced him, but did not look at him, "I may not be able to carry it," Sophia whispered, her voice on the edge of breaking, "I lost a babe once. Ever since then I have not been able to carry at all," Wrapping her arms around herself, she risked a glance at her nobleman, "What if I lose it now?"

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 22 2014, 01:44 PM
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The wanderer averted his gaze as his ex-lover made her anger and hurt clear to him, even though he despised himself for asking such questions. He knew he had every right to question her on this, after all he wouldn’t want to raise a child and find out later it isn’t his. How devastating would that be? No, he won’t take that risk. But even so…seeing Sophia like this, so fragile and clearly afraid of what future lies before them, it was a foreign sight. One he isn’t accustomed to.

His dark eyebrows frowned softly at Sophia’s lack of speech so he let out a nervous chuckle “Surprised?” he asked her, his tone almost teasing. It’s only right after all, if the child is truly his than he must do his part. “Who’s forcing me?” he answered her as he squeezed her hand, the soft smile on his lips denying any retaliation yet in his heart, he knew that it was himself who’s pushing him into this. He doesn’t really know how he’s supposed to feel really but he knows he doesn’t want to abort the child, even if that child robs them of his-their happiness. And what if it does? Well he can only hope that he will not resent the child, and that he will love the babe like any father should.

He scoffed “I can make it work.” said the male, his dark eyes locked with Sophia’s own. “You’re thinking this wrong, a child doesn’t have to mean we’ll lose everything else.” Countered Esmund, so determined not to let his ambitions slip away “Yes, it’ll be harder, but not impossible.” Said Esmund as he tried to convince Sophia that not everything will be bleak. He was silent once again as Sophia spoke to him of her concerns and their unborn child and her own worries over if she is capable of carrying the baby to full term. His eyes softened as his hand squeezed her again “Better to give the babe a chance before we decide its fate.” It was all he could say, he can’t force Sophia to carry the child and there’s nothing stopping her from aborting the child.

He was wordless for a few more before he spoke again “I have a child, maybe not the best plan but my mother.” He stopped speaking to compose himself, just thinking about that woman and the prospect of returning to her made his stomach curl “My mother will help you, if you pose as my wife that is. She’ll give you comfort and luxury.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 22 2014, 03:18 PM
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When Esmund's laugh broke her silence, Sophia managed a weak smile of her own. How he managed to joke in this situation was beyond her. Truth be told, she was surprised. She had never expected him to so easily agree to having this baby, or to agree at all. She knew how much he enjoyed his free life, not having any responsibilities, and this would take all of that away. It was hard to see things positively. Things never went well for Sophia, she had learned that the hard way. And she was scared, not only of the fate of this child, but of the pain she would feel if she allowed herself to love it and then lost it, "This is not something you can walk away from if it becomes too much..." Sophia answered quietly, secretly voicing one of her other fears, "And I cannot do this alone..."

As the conversation went on, her grip tightened on Esmund's hand. She smiled and shook her head. He was so stubborn, so determined to believe that having a baby would not change a thing for him. She realized then, while she was naïve, so was he. They were both inexperienced in other ways, unable to see the truth of things, "Not everything, no. But it is a commitment," Sophia answered, "This child would come before everything else, even our own dreams and desires," Even if he did not fully understand that now, with time he would. The more her belly would swell, the clearer it would become. When he felt its first kick, when he heard its first cry, he would know. She only hoped he would not regret the decision he made now. When she confessed that she may not be able to give him this child, his reaction surprised her again. He was calm and determined, not bothered by the idea. Taking a deep breath, Sophia moved closer to him, her steps small and weary. Maybe he was right, maybe they should give this child a chance. Blinking back unwanted tears, Sophia let a hand wander across her stomach to cradle her belly. No, he was right. It did deserve a chance.

"It's not just our babe that we'd have to give a chance," Sophia said suddenly, unsure how she had to word this. Her blue eyes found his', casting him a more hopeful look, "It's also about us," She ached to take his hand again, but didn't dare to do so. And so she looked at him, managing a soft smile, "Do you really want this?" She asked, "Would you want to be with me and have this child together?" They were never truly a couple, not the way a man and a woman ought to be together. There was never love, only knots and tingles in her belly when she was with him. They enjoyed each other's company, comforted each other, made love. It was hardly a relationship, but she wanted to know. She was a woman, after all. Was there even a chance?

Another silence fell between them, it surely would not be the last that night. They had to choose their words carefully, reassure each other yet get rid of any doubts. Sophia looked at him curiously when he stated he had a plan and mentioned his mother. He had never really spoken about his mother before, but she knew they did not get along, that Esmund ran away from home long ago, never to return. Why was he bringing that woman up now? "Your wife?" Sophia repeated, her reddened eyes narrowing in confusion. That made no sense - neither of them wanted to marry, why would she pretend to be his wife? "'Tis not luxury I want or need, Esmund," She spoke sincerely. She never had luxury and did not desire it, it was not about that. They did not need riches to be happy or to be a family. Quietly, she scoffed, "Your mother would open up her arms to a peasant girl, belly swollen with a bastard?" This plan was ridiculous, he couldn't be serious. Breathing deeply, Sophia lowered herself back onto the bed, holding her hands together in her lap and stared at her blue skirts, "I want to do this right. I just want what's best for her..." And she did. If they were going to do this, it deserved a decent life, not one behind stone walls being fed with silver spoons. She did not want her to be spoiled. They needed to do things right for her, for their daughter.

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 23 2014, 11:39 AM
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While Esmund was still reeling over the shock, just like Sophia, he was also utterly flabbergasted because after all it isn’t a usual thing. His dark eyes still remained on Sophia still, it felt so strange for Sophia to be the rational thinking one, here she is explaining the situation and he’s still clinging onto the hopes that he could still raise a child and carry his dreams with him. That a child won’t reduce his own ambitions to ash, that it would shackle him down.

“I don’t intend to walk away.” He reassured, even though in his heart he knew he could, well would never do such traitorous thing. And she’s right, he can’t leave her behind, for if he does it’ll be greatest regret, and it would not be something he can easily flaunt off as a mistake or a careless impulsive action, no, he has to be responsible now.

It did seems Esmund haven’t fully realize the extent of the situation, how his life would change drastically in the coming months, that in time he’ll grow conscious of the fact that he’ll have to sacrifice his ambitions if he Is to fulfil his role as a father and to look after Sophia. And while he did listen to Sophia and nodded to show his understanding, he haven’t fully grasped the seriousness of it, it’s like the adventurous boy within him is pushing aside the scholar. His eyes dropped to the hand on her belly, it never ceases to amaze her how a little thing could change a woman, that Sophia’s usual fire smothered by the prospect of a child, because after all she’s not on her own anymore, there’s one more person she’ll have to think about should they keep the child.

His chest felt like it rolled over as Sophia more or less brought up the relationship topic, he didn’t want to put a label on their relationship. And while Sophia did not take his hand, the wanderer did as he planted his hand on the hand cradling her belly. “I…” he faltered at first, he didn’t love Sophia but he did have a fondness for her and the feeling must be mutual but then again, women are an odd species. One he will not figure the secrets out any time soon. “I do like Sophia, I value our friendship and our companionship.” He started, he is not keen to get into this but better to tell her now then have built fault hopes “But my feelings do not extend beyond fondness for your companionship. “ in other words he was telling her he did not love her in the way a couple should, they were never a couple to begin with. He squeezed her hand, hoping she would not flip out at him.

His mother was a sore topic to get into, he pulled away his hand and took a seat beside her on the bed “Yes, it would be better to show up on her door after ten years with a wife rather than an unmarried lass.” He didn’t want to upset Sophia, but he knew it’s important to be blunt about his mother. “I mean for the child, as she grows she’s need to live in comfort and happiness and well off. A good education as well with little strife to throw her life into turbulence.” He countered, his mind racing ahead of his usual thoughtful mouth “I would not have child or the mother of my child on the streets struggling to find food.” Worry was etched on his face, he felt powerless, that he feels he must resort to his mother for their child’s sake. “I can provide education, but only so much. And you need a place to sleep and to eat in safety so she can grow within you with no problems.” That was another thing bothering him, he had heard of horror stories regarding the unborn child of lasses left homeless on the road. That most are stillborn, some are born with missing limbs or some other ghastly feature.
]
His thoughts were distracted as the topic came back to his mother again “She would not, that’s why you’ll have a fake background.” Even though to outsider this plan would seem foolish, and he knew he will not be let off lightly should his mother find out the cobweb of lies he had so finely crafted. “I can tell you how to behave in her presence, how to be more…” he looked her up and down “L-ladylike.” He finished, hoping he haven’t irritated her. “This is what best for her.” Said the male as he tried to convince the woman “I mean, obviously not with mother but you’ll have a place to stay for nine months, which should give me enough time to figure out another plan.” Said the man as he rose to his feet and stroked his beard in thought before turning back to Sophia “Be assured, I wouldn’t have thought of that woman if my uncle wasn’t still at sea, and tis likely he won’t back until three months after the baby is born.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 23 2014, 02:20 PM
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He could reassure her all he wanted, there would always be an unspoken fear that he would leave her. Esmund was a good man, honest and strong, but even Sophia was wise enough to know how scared men could become when they realized what responsibility a child demanded. She had heard the tales - young mothers left alone, no man to support them, even though those same men had sworn to stand by them. Her own mother was among those women, "Promise me," Sophia whispered in a low voice, hoping that he would forgive her for doubting him.

Although she understood the consequences of being a mother, she remained naïve. For there was the smallest flicker of hope that there was a future not only for the child, but for them as well. That was the way it was supposed to be, wasn't it? It was normal, wasn't it? Men and women ought to love each other, especially if they were expecting a babe. She could smack herself for thinking these things. She knew better than to fall to the thought of love. Sophia waited in anticipation for Esmund's answer. When he touched his hand to hers - laying over her belly - there was a warmth she hadn't felt in a long time. She gave a weak smile, but it began to fade the moment he spoke. Yet she remained strong and did not show the hints of hurt and disappointment she felt. Putting her other hand atop of his', she moved both hands so it was his hand that touched her belly, kept in place by hers. Her belly was still flat, there was no bump to feel, but it felt tighter - firmer. It wouldn't be long until it started to swell, "Your friendship is all I need..." Sophia answer finally. They had to make it work somehow, even if it was by accepting that there would never be anything more than friendship.

When he pulled away his hand, the warmth left her. She sat quietly beside him on the bed, unable to grasp what he was getting at. He was rambling, mumbling nonsense that seemed completely irrelevant. It seemed that they had completely different ideas of a life together. He was a nobleman, she a peasant girl, it was bound to give conflict, "But... I wouldn't be your wife," Sophia repeated his last words. She looked confused, whether she was too tired to comprehend the complexity of this plan or simply refused to was questionable. Then suddenly, her lips formed in a smile and her sweet little laugh rang through the tent, "And if differently, I have to tell you that was the worst proposal I have ever heard," She joked but the humour was short-lived. Even after several weeks, she had grown protective of the little girl inside her womb, "She does, but that does not mean she has to be raised in castle walls. We wouldn't struggle to find food, I would work hard and earn honest coin," Truth be told, Sophia didn't know if being raised under the circumstances of nobles was so good at all. She had seen the little lordlings and ladies - they were spoiled, didn't know half of the world and thought they were right on top of it. The was the last thing she wanted.

Esmund was right, though. The babe did need safety and comfort and Sophia needed food and a place to rest, a place to have this baby without worries. Still, she was defensive, "Well, what of the education I can provide? What I can teach her?" She countered Esmund, noticing he had never mentioned her role. Her eyes narrowed slightly in a sharp gaze. She was a proud woman, Esmund ought to know, and she was convinced she could raise the girl to be right and proper without any luxury.

Once more, the conversation began to turn sour when it returned to his mother. Already confused, the mention of a fake background did not help. He hinted at a scam, to deceive his mother into thinking they were married and that Sophia was of noble birth. That their child was not a bastard at all. It was all kinds of wrong. It was false, dishonourable, "Ladylike?" Sophia repeated with a raised brow, "You mean be obedient, keep tidy, speak only when spoken to and waste hours on bloody embroidery?" It seemed her fire was not completely smothered at all, it was only dimmed. Whatever fear she felt did not mean she would obey blindly and not question this plan of his. Sophia sighed and stubbornly continued, "It is not what's best for her. It is the easy way," She tried to reason, staring back up at him as he stood. She met his gaze with a stern look of her own, "Esmund, normal people in our situation would marry, work hard and buy a house somewhere. They don't plot to deceive noble Ladies, which could ultimately lead to being hanged or burned at the stake for treason," And that was exactly what could happen if anyone ever found out. He could not deny that.

Her tone softened then. Sophia rose to her feet to meet him, took hold of his hands with those gentle fingers and described how she saw their future, "We could have a little cottage somewhere, peace and quiet. I could teach her my trade, and she would have a decent future," She told him softly, "She does not need luxury, she needs responsible parents."

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 23 2014, 04:52 PM
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The dark-haired male was taken aback by Sophia’s lack of faith in him, it amazed him how she could doubt him after all the times the shared, the stuff they went through together, what they’ve endured together. But of course, he reminded himself of Sophia’s background, particularly with men. Plus they’ve only known each other for weeks, it’ll be foolish to place complete trust in one another yet…why did it hurt him? The pain didn’t cross through his eyes but he did taken a moment to consider what he should say. “I promise.” He stated firmly, his eyes hiding the hesitation. While he is sure he’ll never leave Sophia, he can’t promise her if his cowardice will win out…who knows how he’ll feel once the baby comes along. But she needs reassurance that’ll he stay…so he gave her that.

His eyes dropped to the soft hands atop of his, he sat with bated breath as he waited for Sophia’s reply. He didn’t want to become more than they already are, he isn’t compelled to marry her because…well neither of them wanted marriage in the first didn’t they? Or did Sophia’s opinion change when the child came along? He let out a breath of relief as Sophia seemly agreed with him, although silently he couldn’t help but think she expected more. But did she understand properly? That he does want her but not be a couple? That he still wishes to remain lovers but…if it happens, it happens.

He inwardly groaned as Sophia misunderstood what he meant by wife “No of course not.” He answered before continuing “You’ll pose as my wife.” His lips extended into a smile “And trust me Sophia, if I propose to a woman it wouldn’t be in a tent.” joked the man, extending the slight banter between them. “Working hard doesn’t guarantee money Sophia. Especially for a woman in a world ruled by men.” While Esmund does play the happy fool, he is regrettably aware of the harsh treatment of women-kind.

Again he inwardly cringed as Sophia picked up on his words about education harshly “You can teach it anything.” Said the man “Teach her the skills of a nurse, how to be kind. The vital lessons for it to grow into a good decent human being.” He knows not of what Sophia could teach, but he knows she’ll play the role of mother well.

With a sigh he tackled the subject once again “Kind of, I don’t mean start wearing make-up and such but just be ladylike to the extent my mother won’t suspect you to be false.” Thankfully he has the mind not to step on her toes too much. Even though Sophia spoke the truth, that going to his mother is the easy thing to do for the baby, he refused to acknowledge it. “Easy?” he answered back, irritation slipping into his tone “It will not be easy to face my mother after all these years, but that’s what I’m prepared to do for the baby…and you.” He dropped his gaze and pressed two fingers to his forehead.

He wanted to do this, to do this shameful plot for the sake of the baby and Sophia. Was he thinking rationally? Perhaps not, but it’s better than struggling for nine months concerned with how he is going to look after the both of them. He calmed down slightly as Sophia’s tone softened and when she took his hand. Again he sighed “We can have that!” said the man as he raised his voice and took a step back “Nine months, that’s all I’m asking Sophia. Just nine months of pretending and then we’re gone.” said Esmund, trying so hard not to plead. He is so convinced that this course of action is the best thing to do, so determined to give everything for the baby before it is even born.


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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Jan 24 2014, 06:35 AM
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It was not meant to be this way - the pair was becoming more agitated with each other by the second. What were they doing? Was this how it was going to be if they had this babe? Sophia gave an apologetic smile once she saw the shock on Esmund's face for questioning his honesty but regretted nothing. She had to have his promise, if only to calm her own doubts. But it was no worse than asking if the babe was even his', Sophia was still angered by the fact that he had. If it wasn't, she would have never written to him, and he would not be there right now. Her smile widened when he answered her, promising that he would not leave her, and she gave a grateful nod. She would have to see through his actions if he meant it or not, but for now it was enough.

However, it did not cut the tension slowly forming in the tent. Sophia knew this would not be easy, that there would be clashes, fights. Knowing that he did not want to be with her did not make it any easier. She could live with friendship, after all she knew plenty of men and women that were friends for the sake of their children, but she could not deny she wanted more. To feel his arms around her again, a caress, a kiss. To be his woman. Yet it was a far cry from love. Sophia did not love Esmund either, not the way a woman should love a man. She did not know to what extent she had feelings for him, if any love-related feelings at all. She only knew that she wanted him.

When the plan began to unfold, Sophia shared the wanderer's irritation. His little groan brought a frown to her already troubled features, sensing his shortening patience. Pose as his wife? Briefly she wondered why, would it not defeat the purpose of not being married entirely? Being married in the eyes of others or actually being married, there was little difference. He criticized her ability to make coin well, forcing a glare out of her. Her eyes narrowed, offended by the statement. He meant well. Surely, he did. But he should know better than to doubt her abilities, a proud woman like Sophia would find a way somehow. With a frustrated sigh, she pushed herself to her feet. Her legs and hips ached as she moved. Her features tensed in a pained expression, but she did not stop. She dug through a leather bag that laid on the desk and tossed a small object to Esmund when she found it. It was a little purse, not at all heavy but filled with the money she had earned working. It wasn't much at all - a few coppers and even some silver coins. But it was much for Sophia, whom had never had anything to begin with, "It does if you have a good master," She told him stubbornly, not realizing that the term 'master' might hint at something entirely else, something much more related to her previous occupation, "Aye, there would be no jewels or satin sheets, pretty dresses or servants doing every little thing you desire. But we would live nonetheless," She despised the lifestyle of nobles so much, she would not stop defending her own. Esmund was right - women hardly had a place in this world - but he had no right to speak of a woman's place if he had never experienced it himself.

Sophia did not reply when they moved on. She looked away, unsure of what to say. Did he really want her to be more ladylike? She opposed the idea, knowing that it would never make her happy if she pretended to be someone she was not. It might ruin her, and that castle his mother lived in would become her prison. Did he not realize that? A light chuckle slipped from her full lips when he claimed that it was not the easy way. She could hardly believe him, "Fine, you must be right then. How very honourable..." She muttered harshly. She was reaching a breaking point. This was not what she had dreamed of at all, not how it was supposed to be. And to make it worse, they were bitching at each other like teenaged children that could not have their way. She fell silent when he stepped away and he raised his voice at her. In a matter of a second, whatever anger she felt was replaced with something new, just pure emotion. This whole plan was putting so much pressure on her, she felt defeated by Esmund's continuous attempts to persuade her.

Feeling her emotions get the better of her, she stepped further away from him, her eyes glued to the ground. Her voice cracked gently when she finally replied, "Seven," She whispered. A tear slid down her cheek, which she quickly wiped away, not wanting him to see, "'Tis seven months..." A poor excuse of a smile played on her lips and a hand wandered to her belly once again, "She is two months old already, no bigger than the thickness of your thumb," She was so small, this babe, and already caused so much trouble. So much worry. With a shaky breath, Sophia wrapped her arms around herself and wandered across the tent, not once stopping to meet his eyes, "Okay..." She finally said, "'Tis not right, I do not want to do this, but I trust you," She looked defeated, her fire smothered, as she looked at him with tear-stained, pleading eyes and wet cheeks. She smiled poorly, regretting the fighting that had just occurred, "M-may I have that hug now, my Lord?"

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Jan 25 2014, 03:26 PM
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He wasn’t particular fond of this, the way they were arguing. This isn’t them, which much he could see but then again, it would be naive to assume that they would be able to sort this out without any differences in opinions or any heated words. And Esmund is anything but naïve.

He said nothing as Sophia answered back, he isn’t surprised really. It is one of the reasons why he adores Sophia, he appreciates the fact she would challenge him and not mindlessly follow him. “Good master?” he repeated, trying not to let his mind wander to the wrong conclusion. “There are good men out there Sophia, but not all will treat a woman equally.” He spoke the truth; men will not hesitate to take advantage of a woman’s struggling finances. Which is why he would rather be the breadwinner if it means making sure Sophia doesn’t come to harm, it isn’t that he doesn’t expect her to be incapable of looking after herself, its other people that he doesn’t trust.

He scoffed and shook his head “Is that what you think my former life was?” he bit back, his smile masking his snideness, he was about to say more but silenced his tongue. There is no need to bring up his past to Sophia, how he used to sleep with the servants and treated as lower cast along with his elder brother while his mother endured his lord step father’s beatings. It isn’t something he wants to go back to, the lack of freedom.

His eyes softened in regret as Sophia finally submitted to him, with a sigh he tried to search for the words to comfort her worries but there was naught there but guilt. “I do apologise Sophia, if there was another way I take it.” said the man, his heart heavy with the guilt that he had made her shred tears and caused unnecessary stress. “ he dropped his eyes and tightened his knuckles, his mind forming the image of the two month old baby nestling in Sophia’s womb. Is she that far along already?

His heart sank with remorse when Sophia requested a hug, and who is he to deny her that? Wordlessly he nodded and came forth and wrapped his arms around her, knotting his right hand with Sophia’s own and place their hands atop her belly, his chest to her back he brush his nose against the other’s ear. “Of course.” He didn’t see the appeal in calling her lady crowe or whatever, so he did not care to give her taste of her own medicine, only plant a kiss on her cheek “Shall we go to bed? Tomorrow we’ll pack and then the day after we’ll set off.” He didn’t want to rush things too quickly, but he does need to get his mother’s house promptly.

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