Fields of Duscur
They successfully hired a carriage, but somehow, she ended up in his lap again, kissing and being kissed. By the time they reached the castle, Mercedes felt like a struck match, burning quickly and brightly. The walk to his quarters seemed to take an age. When they arrived at his door, he opened it, picked her up, and carried her inside.
“What’s next?” she asked as he closed the door and locked it, even though she buzzed with the knowledge of where the night would lead.
Dedue took the jewelry box out of his pocket and put it on the table. “Now we pledge ourselves.”
“Is there anything in particular we need to say?” she asked as she removed the earring from the box.
“You need only finish it with, ‘this I vow upon the gods of our land. May they strike me down if I prove false during the year we are pledged.’ “
Mercedes nodded. She held the earring, its gold shining faintly in the light from the window. The threads of her life gathered around her, ready to be woven with his.
“Dedue,” she said, a lump forming in her throat, “I swear to love you and to care for you. I promise I will help your people and stand by your side. I never want to be without you and look forward to the day you’ll be my husband in the Fódlan tradition. This I vow upon the gods and goddesses of our lands. May they strike me down if I prove false during the year we are pledged.”
Dedue bent his head so she could slip the earring through his left earlobe. His eyes glistened, as if he fended off tears.
“Mercedes,” he said, voice thick, “I will love you and protect you. I will try my best to balance my duty to you with my duty to my king. I thank the gods for you every day and cherish every moment we are together. This I vow upon the gods and goddesses of our lands. May they strike me down if I prove false during the year we are pledged.”
Dedue fastened the necklace around her throat. She rested her fingertips upon the gold disc resting on her chest.
“That’s it?” she asked.
“It is done.”
“A year from now we can be married again?”
“If you still wish it.”
Mercedes nodded and smiled, blinking away tears. Although their covenant hadn’t been an official marriage ceremony in the eyes of the goddess, it felt as momentous as one. Perhaps it was because they’d pledged in accordance with the gods of Duscur. She and Dedue had made their vows, no different from wedding vows, and Dedue never broke his promises. Neither did she.
Dedue frowned at the floor, color staining his cheeks. The silence grew awkward. “Are you hungry?”
Mercedes shook her head. The fluttering of her insides made thinking of food impossible.
He nodded, and she gasped as he swept her off her feet and carried her into the bedchamber. She gripped the fabric of his jacket, her breath coming more quickly. Now that the moment had arrived, her nerves took over.
“You are trembling,” he murmured. “Are you afraid?”
“No, it’s just…I’m not sure what to do.”
“I understand. I admit I do not know how to pleasure you.”
Mercedes smiled up at him as bravely as she could manage. “Then let’s agree to keep our expectations low. And to do our best to improve.”
Dedue set her down on the edge of the bed. They gazed at one another for a long moment. Then he began to unfasten the buttons of his jacket.
Heat built under her skin as he shed his jacket, muscles rippling beneath his shirt. He looked at her, gaze hungry. Mercedes stood and approached him. Her fingers shook as she undid the top button of his shirt, but she grew bolder with each button she freed. The bronze expanse of his chest appeared, covered by a smattering of pale hair. He shuddered as she slid her hand beneath the fabric and over his skin. So firm, so warm and smooth between the scars. She slipped the shirt from his shoulders and grazed the top of his chest with her mouth.
“Unfair,” Dedue rumbled. He removed her hat and ran his fingers through her hair. He unbuttoned her sleeves, exposed her wrists, and planted kisses where her pulse beat. She shivered. His fingers traveled up her arm to her throat. His mouth followed. He undid the fastening of her collar, slid the first layer off, and began to unbutton her bodice. He only undid enough fastenings to expose her cleavage and shoulders, his gaze smoldering. Before she knew what was happening, he lay her on the bed, her arms pinned to her sides by her half-removed dress.
A sigh stirred her skin as his lips explored her throat and collarbones. He kissed the tops of her breasts and ran his tongue from her cleavage up to her ear, where he traced its curves and sucked on her earlobe. Sparks of pleasure followed his mouth, shooting down her core to between her legs.
“Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” Mercedes asked, a slight tremor in her voice.
Dedue returned to her cleavage, where he continued to kiss as he undid the rest of her buttons. Her breasts fell free. She turned her head away, face burning at being exposed.
“You have beautiful breasts,” he said, but instead of touching them, he removed the rest of her clothing. The fabric at the front of his trousers stretched taut. She couldn’t look away. She’d never seen a naked man before. Her curiosity almost made her forget she lay exposed before him.
“All of you is beautiful,” he continued.
Why wasn’t he taking off those trousers? She sat up, the fires in her rising. The belt came off first. She held her breath as she unbuttoned his trousers. His erection sprang free, perilously close to her face. What would he do if she kissed it? It seemed a dirty thought, but she had a difficult time considering any of him dirty.
Mercedes missed her chance. Dedue stepped away and began to fold their clothes. A giggle escaped her as she slipped under the covers. She didn’t know many people who would have taken the time to tidy up in this situation.
“I wasn’t laughing at you,” she said when his brow furrowed. ‘It’s just…how strange it is to be in bed before dinner.”
Dedue placed the folded clothes on the chest of drawers and turned toward her. He seemed even bigger out of his clothes. Every sculpted muscle was on display, already broad shoulders made massive by years of wielding heavy weapons and wearing armor. The pale hair from his chest continued down to his stomach. Unlike some muscular men, his thighs and calves were proportional instead of skinny, likely from bearing the weight of his fortress armor and from long marches over unforgiving terrain. Her gaze skated across his groin again despite her best efforts. Everything about Dedue was large. Even that.
Lighter scars covered his bronzed skin from head to toe, and Mercedes’s heart clenched. Such a map of pain written over his strong, beautiful body. She wanted to kiss those scars and take away any hurt, no matter how old.
Her observations had so consumed Mercedes that she startled when he slid under the covers next to her. She riveted her gaze to the canopy of the bed. They lay, side by side, not touching, although warmth radiated from him. Her heart pounded so loudly she was certain he could hear it.
“You are still trembling,” he said. “We do not have to do this.”
She laughed, but it sounded forced even to her. “It’s more awkward when it’s not spontaneous, don’t you think?”
“We can wait, if you wish. According to my people’s traditions, we are joined now.”
Mercedes nodded. She couldn’t stop shaking, but she couldn’t tell if it was from nerves or need.
“I will just hold you,” Dedue said. “Know that I do not expect anything of you.”
Dedue’s skin slid against hers as his warm, powerful body folded around her. Mercedes immediately melted into his embrace. Where it wasn’t scarred or covered by hair, his skin was surprisingly silky. Tenderness beneath the toughness. That was precisely how she thought of Dedue.
Evening light filtered through the gauzy inner curtains, illuminating his features. Mercedes traced his cheeks, lips, brow, and chin. Her fingers came to rest on the earring she had just given him.
“What does the symbol mean?” she asked.
“It is the symbol of the goddess of love.” His gaze burned as he looked at her. “You are the only woman I will ever love.”
Warmth raced through her body. She rested her hands against his massive chest. The heat inside her changed to lightning as Dedue pulled her closer and kissed her gently. He stroked her back and traced her spine. Something hot and granite-hard pressed against her hip. Between her legs ached in response. Oh, goddess.
Dedue must have read her thoughts on her face, for a blush spread across his cheeks. “I desire you. Greatly.”
Before Mercedes could reply, he kissed her again. His lips were still gentle, but this time the kiss carried a passionate urgency. She opened her mouth to him and welcomed his tongue inside. His arms tightened around her, and his manhood throbbed against her. She barely had room to free her arm and loop it around his back, where she clutched the slabs of muscle. He was strong, so strong, but she wasn’t afraid. Dedue would never hurt her.
She moaned as his mouth traveled down her throat. A tremor passed through her, driven by the warm insistence of his lips. They nibbled at her collarbone, at the top of her chest. His thumb stroked the side of her breast, moving inward until his hand cupped her at last. She sighed with pleasure.
“Should I stop?” he murmured against her skin.
Mercedes bit her lip and shook her head. The buzzing heat low in her belly grew.
A sound rumbled deep in Dedue’s chest, and his hand brought her breast to his mouth. She gasped as his tongue lapped at her nipple. Her fingers curled in his hair, holding him to her, while she bit the knuckle of her free hand to keep from moaning.
“Your breasts are more wonderful than I imagined,” he said.
He’d been fantasizing about her? She whimpered at the loss of his mouth as he spoke. Never had she thought someone’s touch would feel so good. “Don’t stop,” she managed.
Dedue rolled her onto her back and sucked her nipple as his other hand traveled down her belly. His fingers stirred the hair at the apex of her legs, and her hips involuntarily thrust upward. She bit her knuckle harder. How shameless and brazen of her! He’d think she was a hussy.
“Touch me,” Dedue said against her breast. “Please.”
Mercedes swallowed hard. She traced the taut muscles of his stomach, and soon her hand bumped against the velvety heat of his member. Dedue shuddered as her fingers explored his tip. A new wave of fire raced through her at his reaction. His pleasure was more important to her than her own.
Feeling brave, she caressed his shaft. He moaned and thrust his hips. The blaze inside her burned hotter. His stones filled her hand, and she fondled them gently, gratified by the way he ground against her.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“And I love you.”
A cry ripped free from her throat as his fingers slid between her folds and explored. The sensation, paired with his mouth on her breast, drove all thoughts from her head. She arched, eyes closed as she panted.
“You are very slippery,” Dedue breathed.
“What does that mean? Is it bad?”
“I find it arousing. Tell me what feels good to you.”
Mercedes couldn’t find the words as he gently parted her. His mouth switched to her other breast, his fingers touching and sliding. One briefly dipped inside her, which was maddening enough, and then passed over a spot that made her jerk and gasp. He made a sound that vibrated her bones and touched her there again. She writhed against him, mind blank. Pleasure built inside her, growing brighter and filling her head with white noise. It was too much—she scrabbled at him, gasping, grinding, needing something but not knowing what. Instead of slowing, he redoubled his efforts until her universe narrowed to his touch.
A sound that was nearly a scream left Mercedes as she shattered into a thousand pieces. She jerked and bucked against his heavy body, alternately moaning and gulping air. Her vision blurred as she blinked at him, all thoughts driven from her mind.
Dedue spread her thighs as she went limp and positioned himself between them. A long, deep sigh left him as he pressed his tip to her opening. A new flush of heat claimed her as he pushed inside. Her maidenhead resisted him, but her euphoria dulled the pain. Instead of a cry, she emitted only a whimper, tears springing to her eyes.
“I will stop,” he said, moving to withdraw.
Mercedes clamped her hands down on the small of his back and held him in place. “No, don’t. I’ll be all right.”
His locked elbows held his weight above her, and his brow furrowed. “Are you certain? I don’t wish to hurt you.”
“I want you to feel good, too.” She caressed his cheek, and he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch.
Dedue’s first thrust took her breath away. Although it hurt, they were joined, truly one. A sound between a moan and a grunt left him with each movement. Mercedes ignored the pain and gripped his arms, trying to match his rhythm.
“Oh, gods,” he said between clenched teeth, face a mask of concentration.
Mercedes tried to reply, but his thrusting increased in depth and tempo, robbing her of speech. She pressed her face against his shoulder. He uttered a sound, buried himself to the hilt, and shuddered again and again. His weight pinned her to the mattress as he collapsed on top of her, panting and boneless.
They lay like that, hearts pounding against each other, until he softened and slipped from her body. Finally, he rolled off her and pulled her to him so her head rested on his chest. A soft, lazy smile spread over her mouth as she listened to his heartbeat and played with the hair on his chest.
“Apologies for hurting you,” he said, eyes closed.
Mercedes shook her head. “Only for a moment. You made me feel very, very good, too.”
A smile curved his lips.
“I’m sure we’ll get better at it,” she continued. “We have the rest of our lives, after all.”
“So we do, my love.”
They lay entwined until hunger drove Dedue to fetch food. “I’ve heard of breakfast in bed, but dinner?” Mercedes said with a laugh.
They fed each other the meal, took advantage of his enormous bathtub, and practiced lovemaking again. When it was time to finally fall asleep, Mercedes grinned against Dedue’s shoulder. It was a wonderful thing, to love and be loved, a true gift from the goddess. “Thank you,” she whispered in prayer, and finally dropped off to sleep, looking forward to the rest of her life with her beloved.