Aegaeon screamed as he sat bolt upright in bed, the sound and the quick movement waking Matalia. She moved quickly to her knees and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He was shaking, his skin drenched in sweat so his hair stuck to his face. He clung to her, his forehead pressed against her shoulder and he tried his best not to throw up. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, his voice shaking.
“It’s okay my love.” She rubbed his back, doing her best to sooth him. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“I can’t.” He squeezed her a little tighter.
“It’s okay, you don’t have too, tell me when you’re ready.”
“They’re getting worse. Ever since you told me you were pregnant, it’s just been so…”
“It’s been hard, I know.” She leaned back against the headboard and he pillowed his head on her chest while he rested his hand on her still flat abdomen. She wasn’t that far along, maybe a month at most, but he could still sense a life growing there. It terrified him, the prospect of putting a child through having a broken father. It was making his nightmares worse, they came to him in horrifyingly vivid detail. “The Honey Festival starts the day after tomorrow, why don’t we go.”
“Are you sure taking me out in public is a good idea?”
“Aegaeon, it’ll be good to get out and besides, everyone loves honey. There’ll be all kinds of goodies and trinkets, it’ll be fun.”
He sighed and she kissed his forehead. “Okay, if it’ll make you happy.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, you’re my glue.” He raised his head and kissed her lips, his hand moving up to cup her cheek. He parted their lips and pressed his forehead against hers. “I wouldn’t be able to go on if you weren’t in my life. The things you do to me.” He kissed her again and pulled her down so she was on her back. She smiled lovingly up at him, her hands coming up to frame his face and pull him down. He was still on edge, his muscles still tense from the nightmare. She kissed him, seduced him, let him dominate her. Her nails ran down his back as he slammed into her, his hips moving at a violent pace so she was screaming, her back arching off the bed. His tears dripped onto her face and she hugged him tightly to her, accepting all of him, even the darkness that lurked beneath the surface. His lips found hers, his arms wrapping tightly around her, his cry filling her mouth as he released into her depths.
He moved to her side, but kept her in his arms, needing her pressed against him, needing the safety and warmth of her body. “I love you Matalia.”
“I love you too, so very much.” She kissed his chest. “Rest now my love, you need it.”
He silently held her, not sure if he wanted to go back to sleep since sleep meant dreaming. Occasionally she kissed his chest or shoulder in hopes of helping him relax until eventually he did unwind enough to fall asleep. Even in his sleep he held tightly to Matalia which she found endearing though she hated he’d have nightmares. Even though he had chosen to stay so that Gloria would live it still had affected him horribly to be with that bitch queen for so long. She longed for a time when he’d be just as adjusted as some of the others in their family were that had dealt with similar trauma.
Aegaeon woke just as it began to turn light outside and slowly removed his arms from around Matalia who slept soundly next to him. He got slowly out of bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin as he kissed her forehead. She was the epitome of beauty and peace, his goddess, his saving grace. He felt like she deserved a whole man and felt blessed to have her love him. “I’ll be back soon my love. just rest.” He whispered and pulled on a pair of pants and his boots. He stretched his arms above his head when he stepped outside and inhaled the fresh morning air, clearing his head of any exhaustion. Even when he did sleep, he never slept very well and woke up still feeling tired. Moving to Hern’s world had helped him a little. It was incredibly peaceful and Hern had even had them a house built away from everyone else to give them their privacy. He was grateful for it, especially when he woke up screaming most nights. He decided he would go out and collect berries for Matalia while she slept. She had seemed to be endlessly craving them and he tried his best to keep them in the house.
Matalia woke not long after he left to Aegaeon’s side of the bed empty but still warm. She rolled onto her back, wondering how he was feeling. She remembered the first time he had disappeared on her like this. She had been worried about him and had let him have it when he came back, so upset that she had started crying. After he had explained his need to stretch his legs and think and apologized for frightening her, she had stopped worrying. She knew he could take care of himself and knew he would always come back. She rolled back onto her side and grabbed his pillow, still feeling tired. Even though their baby was still so small, she always felt tired and quickly fell back asleep.
Aegaeon collected as many as he could carry then set back towards his home. He didn’t know she had ever woken up but she was back asleep when he returned. He put them in a bowl then left them on the table so his mate could enjoy them the second she woke. He had been intending to just cuddle with her for a bit but her eyes flew open as he crawled into bed “Oh there you are” she said sleepily “I’m sorry, did I worry you?”
“no, I knew you’d come back sweetie”
“I was out picking you berries. They are in the kitchen. I’ll run fetch them” he got back out of bed and grabbed the bowl of berries, bringing them back with a small smile. Matalia sat up and accepted the bowl “that was so thoughtful”
“I enjoy having somthing I can do to thank you for all you put up with”
“You dealt with years of abuse. Don’t feel like you need to apologize for the aftermath” He sat next to her and rested his head on her shoulder “I love you so much Matalia” she swallowed what was in her mouth then kissed the top of his head “I love you too”
He watched her for a moment then took a deep breath and let it out. “I want to talk now, about my nightmare.”
“Are you sure?”
He nodded. “If I don’t I won’t get any better right?”
She sat her remaining berries to the side and laced her fingers through his. “Don’t force yourself, healing takes time.”
“I want too.”
“Alright, tell me.”
He swallowed, his eyes drifting away from her face. “She had some of her men hold me down and threatened to have them slit my throat if I kept fighting. I was such a coward, but I was afraid they’d find Gloria and kill her if I refused.” He reached up with his other hand and rubbed his throat. “I can still feel the blade. It was cold and sharp, it pricked my skin and I could feel myself bleeding. She told me if that didn’t kill me, then she’d let them have me.” He swallowed again, tears burning his eyes. “I just gave in.”
“Aegaeon.” She pulled him into her arms, feeling angry at the bitch who had tortured him, who had threatened him day after day. She ran her fingers through his hair and he held her tightly against him.
“I feel like such a weakling, to be made a dog and not fight until there was nothing left. I want to be normal, for you and the baby, but I just can’t.”
“I love you no matter what, never forget that.”
“Can we just stay close to home today? I don’t feel like socializing.”
“Okay, we’ll stay here. I still think it would be good for you to come with me to the festival tomorrow. I know it’ll be hard but doing things like that will help you heal.” She kissed his head “and don’t feel like a weakling. I weakling wouldn’t have given himself over to protect his mate. That took a lot of love and bravery. You wanting her to be alive and free of the pain you were living in kept you there. I don’t see any reason to be ashamed of that.”
Aegaeon let his hand rest on her abdomen over the life growing there. He was terrified of messing up, of his child seeing him at his worst. He knew even Cipher had his days, but they were few and far between. He sighed, not feeling like he was actually getting any better. “Would you walk with me Matalia?”
“Just let me get dressed.”
“Could I pick out your outfit?”
She smiled. “Sure.”
He searched through her clothes, pulling out his favorite yellow sun dress and her favorite boots. He loved seeing her in bright colors, they set off her hair and eyes. She happily put them on and followed him outside where he scooped her up, making her laugh. Hern’s world was warm, flowers bloomed everywhere in a million bright colors and honey bees danced around, humming softly as they ate and pollinated. Aegaeon inhaled the fresh air, its sweetness mixing perfectly with Matalia’s calming scent. “So what’s the festival like?”
“It’s amazing. Everything is based around bees and honey. Candy, pastries, jars full of the best honey, candles, and soaps, it’s endless. There are flowers everywhere, lanterns shaped like bees and bee hives. There are even games where you can win honey and bee based prizes and every year the king and queen do a taste test of the different honeys raised here and in other worlds.”
“Sounds like a lot of people.”
“You’ll love it, I promise and I’ll stick to you like glue.”
He kissed her head. Aegaeon knew she deserved this and he would do it for her. This relationship was largely about him and his needs and important thing he needed to work on to get ready for the baby was dealing with situations that made him uncomfortable. He wanted to be a fun dad that took his little one places, not someone who just wanted to be inside with his mate all the time. Aegaeon wanted to be the man Gloria had had once he had gotten over the damage she healed in him. They walked around silently, enjoying the sounds of nature around them.
It was nice to live in a world so abundant with life, especially since the animals didn’t live in fear of people. They would walk and fly right by you or come up to be stroked. He let Matalia down everytime somthing would come near since she so enjoyed interacting with the animals. She was such a sweet, healing woman and he once again thought about how lucky he was.
“Want to go to the hot springs?” Matalia asked as he carried her back toward the house.
“You can’t get in though. It’ll hurt the baby right?” She smiled at how worried he sounded.
“I just want to spend time there. I love the steam.”
“Are you sure?”
Aegaeon took them home long enough for them to change into swim wear and then carried her to the hot springs. He sat Matalia on the edge and she dangled her feet into the warm water as he climbed in. He stayed near her, his arms crossing over the edge of the spring and his head resting on his arms as he admired her. She was so beautiful, like a dream. “I love you.” He said softly and she smiled, letting her fingers run through his hair and massage his neck. He closed his eyes, letting out a little moan.
“Yes, very good.”
She leaned down and kissed his cheek, then he turned his head up and she kissed his lips. He tangled his fingers in her hair, his tongue pushing into her mouth. She pulled back with a giggle and he felt his face redden a bit. “Sorry, but you’d have pulled me into the water.”
He pushed himself out of the water and sat beside Matalia, bringing her into his arms and resting his head on her shoulder “done so soon?”
“I just need to hold you” They sat there in bliss, letting their feet rest in the warm water. This was one of those perfect moments in their relationship Matalia lived for. This was one of those moments she knew her mate could find peace. He suddenly kissed her neck which surprised her. She felt a smile against her neck which made her heart flip in her chest. He let her go and sat up, looking at her like she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “I feel a lot better now”
“That’s what I was hoping for.” She leaned over, brushing her nose against his and he found himself covered in goosebumps in spite of the heat.
“You’re so incredible Matalia, really and truly incredible. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” He gently stroked her cheek as he rested his forehead against hers. “I’m going to get better, I promise.”
“Aegaeon, no matter how bad it gets, I’ll always be here, I’ll always love you. Just take it one moment at a time and know you can lean on me when you need too. Your fears and stress will never be too heavy.”
He sighed and kissed her before getting up and lifting her into his arms. He wanted to be home with her. She rested her head against his shoulder, her hands resting on her belly and he tuned himself in to the little life growing there. He hoped their child had Matalia’s patience because he knew he might be hard to live with at times. He already loved the baby and would do anything to keep it safe.
Matalia could read his face so easily. She knew he was thinking of their child and she adored seeing all that love in his eyes. When it came time for the festival Aegaeons nervous energy flooded their home. Matalia rubbed his back “Baby, it’s okay. If it’s really too much we don’t have to go”
‘No, I want to do this for you. I love you so much and you’re so patient. I wont be able to look at myself if I make you miss this” She could see he meant those words so she just kissed him “Okay then, I’m all ready if you are” He took a deep breath in then out before lifting his wife and walking out of their home. It meant so much to Matalia that he cared this much about her happiness. She wouldn’t have held it against him but he certainly would have held it against himself if they didn’t go to this.
The festival was already bustling with people when they arrived, people from worlds that Aegaeon had never even seen. He lowered Matalia’s feet to the ground and she took his hand, giving it a gentle, reassuring squeeze. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just amazed.”
“Told you it was big.”
She smiled as she pulled him into the crowd, wanting to get something for breakfast. “Oh these are good.” She stopped at a booth where she picked out to pastries and some milk with honey for both of them.
“What is it?”
“Just eat, you’ll love it.”
He did and she could instantly tell he liked it “amazing right?” He swallowed his food “yeah” She beamed up at him and he smiled back a moment before finishing his food. They began walking around, staying close to eachother with hands laced. Aegaeon had a hard time relaxing but was honestly trying because he wanted Matalia to be happy. He knew well she was going to be paying attention to how he felt the entire time. Somthing caught his eye that he wanted to see. It made Matalia smiled when he actually tugged her toward somthing instead of her guiding him.
“What is this?” He asked as he looked at the intricately carved deer. It had openings so you could kind of peer inside.
“It’s like a big latern kind of. It’s Made of bees wax and they use magic to light up the inside at night and the light shines out and it looks really cool.”
“Will it melt? It seemed too nice to melt.”
“The light isn’t fire, but after the festival they’ll melt it down and make it into candles.” She pointed at some large barrels on the other side of the deer that had taps on them. “Night time is when they start drinking the mead and dancing and singing, there’s even story time. The deer glows bright enough that it lights up the dance floor.”
“we should stay for night then”
“I was hoping we would. It’ll be amazing Aegaeon” He quit admiring the deer long enough to run his hand through her hair “with you it will be. Make sure you let me know when you need to rest though. Rest is so important for you and our baby”
“I know” she smiled at him again and he stared down at her for a few moments before looking at the deer again. Aegaeon was surprised at how fats time started to fly there. He was genuinely enjoying himself. Night came and he got excited for what his mate had talked about.
One of the fairies who had come to the celebration held out her hand and they watched as many little lights swirled above her palm. They floated over to the deer, looking like little fireflies as they filled the hollowed out statue. Its beautiful glow filled the darkness and Aegaeon marveled at its beauty.
“Wow.” He whispered.
“I told you.”
Music started up and Aegaeon raised his head, watching as Hern and Suri stepped up together. It drew others in and Matalia was suddenly pulling him around the deer. He could see she wanted to dance.
He pulled her into him, leading them into a slow dance, Matalia had known before he could dance but as night progressed she could see he was really good at it. They would have to dance more often. He was happy, calm and doing somthing with her he could lead. After so many years of no control and absolute misery Matalia looked for any way she could give him control of things in their life. When they sat down to take a break Suri and Hern joined them.
“How are you two?” Suri asked and Matalia answered “very happy here.”
“Good, we haven’t seen you two in awhile” Hern said.
Aegaeon looked away. “That’s my fault.”
Matalia took his hand. “Now don’t start, you know how tired I’ve been lately.”
Suri leaned close to her. “I do have something to tell you, I’ve been told it’s okay.”
“What does that mean?” Aegaeon asked.
“Suri has a bond with spirits.” Matalia explained.
“They like to show me things from time to time and sometimes I’m allowed to talk about it.”
“So what do they have to tell us?” Matalia asked, looking excited.
“Multiples run in your blood, you’re having twins. A boy and a girl and they are already very strong.”
Aegaeon looked surprised. “How did I not notice? I can hear the baby, well babies.”
“Their hearts beat as one. You wouldn’t have known until later.”
Matalia looked thrilled as she said “I’ve always loved being a part of triplets. It’s such an amazing bond. I’m so glad I’m carrying twins” Suri spoke again “It was a lot of fun raising my twins” The two women talked excitedly as Aegaeon grew more nervous. His mate had two little lives growing inside of her, he had three people he needed to be better for now. Matalia soon noticed her mates nervousness and excused them so they could go home. She claimed she needed to rest so he’d be able to.
“Aegaeon talk to me.” She said softly as he carried her back.
“I…I’m scared Matalia, so damn scared.”
“Of what baby?”
He couldn’t look at her, still ashamed that he couldn’t just let his anxiety go. He knew he shouldn’t be, but this was his mate and she was carrying their children and he could very well ruin everything. “Failure.”
“Honey, it’s going to be alright.”
“Aegaeon…” She reached up, her hand sliding over his cheek. Her fingers moved through his hair and she pulled him down, her lips meeting his so he had to stop walking. He felt his anxiety slipping away to be replaced by her warmth and gentleness. When he finally pulled back she was smiling up at him, so much love and trust in her eyes he felt like crying. “I love you Aegaeon and so will these babies. You’re such a wonderful mate and I know you’ll be an amazing father.”
“Thank you for your faith”
“You’ll see when they get here handsome. I have no doubts you’ll be everything they need and more” He kissed her again. He stared down at Matalia and somehow her intense faith in him actually gave Aegaeon a little faith in himself. “Thank you” he whispered and continued carrying her home. When they arrived at their house Aegaeon stripped her before raining kisses all over Matalia’s body. When he offered to massage her too she asked “are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just want to take care of my mate. You make me so happy and manage to stir up faith in myself even when I am feeling like I’m not worthy at all of these babies. I love and need you Matalia so please let me massage you” She hugged him and sat down for Aegaeon to massage her. He did his best to workout every knot before he laid down with her. He told her how important she was to him one more time before they drifted off to sleep and Matalia felt even more sure these babies were going to have an amazing father.
~ The End