Birds twittered sleepily in the pre-dawn darkness as Pryderi stirred and sighed. The hard warm body of Taranis was curled around her protectively in their soft feather bed nest. For the first time in her life she was sheltered in the strong arms of a lover. Oh, he was not her first lover. In the back country of Zerana, young women did not reach Pryderi's age without suffering the predations of at least one man. If the woman was fortunate, there were no more than two or three.
Though the High King proclaimed that all women must be valued and protected, the High King's men were not out in the byways where women were taken against their will--sometimes even stolen from their families. Pryderi was not an innocent, unaware of what occurred between a man and a woman. Once she took the vows of a Precious, her value increased fourfold as her power both attracted and terrified the men she encountered. Indeed, if they could not shackle her powers for their own needs, then her death was the preferred outcome.
And yet, in her heart she was certain that she was safe in Taranis' arms. Safe in his bed and at his table. She turned to face him and nibbled his chest.
"Awake already, little love?" He tilted his head so that his lips brushed hers in a gentle kiss.
"It's time," she said solemnly.
"Yes, it's time," he agreed. With the birdsong providing a melodious backdrop, they came together for the first time as mates in a slow joyous loving. There would be other times for the sound and fury of passion. This time... this time was for sealing the vows that bound them together... this time was for gentle, abiding love.
In a little while as the dawn lit the slate roofs of dragonry, Pennim quietly rose and went out into the enormous yard, stretching his stiff muscles in the cool shadows. He lazily flapped his wings to warm them up. Soon his mates would be looking for breakfast. His snout stretched in a dragon grin. Perhaps he would just go hunting for an unwary rabbit or two. After all, a hungry female mate was a cranky female mate.
With a last dragon chuckle, his wings beat powerfully as he rose above the yard, trumpeting his happiness for all to hear. Yes, it was a good day to hunt!
To be continued...
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