The hall was loud with voices and music. Megan and Ina smiled as the food disappeared almost as fast as it was brought in. Wine, mead and ale filled goblets and was drunk almost as quickly as the food was eaten. The two women giggled as Rhys sat next to Finn, discussing cattle. Artur and Lady Tegyd were discussing something while gesturing wildly. Lady Rhoslyn and her daughters were dancing with Lew, Jon, Coel, and Sam. Up near the head of the table, Mael and Sian sat talking to each other as if they were the only ones in the room.
“Do we dare head upstairs?”
“I dinna think we can unseen.” Mael looked around at the boisterous room. He was happy that the men had to the last one decided to join him at Clewth Hall. He was also still in shock over being given the run of the hall and the lands.
“Well, shall we try?”
“Are ye that anxious to be a wife?” He smiled as he said it. The last thing he wanted to admit was that he was nervous. He’d had pub maids and once long ago, a sweet lass, but Sian was different.
She smiled. “Aye.” The blush flew across her face.
Mael stood up and took her by the hand and headed towards the door to the hall.
“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Lord Rhys.
Mael flushed bright red. “Upstairs?”
That brought the room to a halt as everyone stood up. They gathered around Mael and Sian.
“To bed, to bed! We walk the bride to bed!” sang the men. The musicians followed the crowd as they walked Mael and Sian upstairs. The master bedroom at the top of the stairs had been decorated in flowers and looked like a forest bower. Lady Tegyd and the other women grabbed Sian and pulled her into the room, closing the door behind them.
“What are you doing?” asked Sian, rather confused.
“We are getting you ready for your new husband,” said Lady Rhoslyn. She began to unlace Sian’s gown. Sian stood there, not knowing what was going to happen next. Her mother drew a fine linen night gown out of a drawer and dropped it over Sian’s head as Rhoslyn removed Sian’s underdress.
“It’s sheer,” said Sian, fingering the fine fabric and lace.
“Yes. Now let’s undo your hair.” Tegyd’s fingers worked quickly to undo the braids and pearl ropes that hand been entwined in Sian’s hair. When it was all combed out, they sat her on the end of the bed and arranged the draping of the gown.
“Now for a little perfume.” Nia brought out a small bottle and daubed the liquid behind Sian’s ears. The room filled with the scent of roses and lavender. “There. Now did your mother tell you what to expect?”
“Yes Aunt Nia.”
“Good. It will hurt a bit at first, but then it’s fun.” Nia kissed Sian and then stepped back. The rest of the women followed suit, with Megan being last.
“Go gentle. Don’t be in a hurry,” Megan said. Then she gave Sian a small rosebud. Then the women left the room.
Outside, Mael had endured endless jokes and jibs. When the doors opened, the women lined the way. He turned and walked into the room with the cheers following him. He closed the door and turned the lock. Then he turned to where Sian sat on the edge of the bed.
“Oh, Sian.” He was stunned.
“Is… is it alright?” She stood up and the gown swirled around her like a fog. Hiding her skin one moment, showing it the next.
“You are so beautiful.” He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms, kissing her deeply.
It didn’t take him long to take off everything except his linen shirt. The two of them crawled up on to the high bed after they swept the flower petals to the floor. At one point, Sian grabbed a handful of them and threw them at Mael. The flower petal fight ended in giggles as he grabbed her and kissed her.
“I’ve been wanting to hold you like this from the first moment I saw you.”
“It wasn’t until I left the first time that I realized I didn’t want to. That I wanted you to hold me and never let me go. Then when I was beaten, I thought you’d never want to look at me again.”
He held her gently and put his hand on the scars on her back under the thin material. “And here I was wantin’ to kiss every spot to make it better. He pulled the ribbon that held the night dress closed and slowly slid it off her shoulder, exposing part of her back.
Sian felt suddenly shy and held the material to her breasts. Mael saw that she was nervous and slowly stroked her back, touching the criss-cross scars. He turned her and began to do exactly what he said he wanted. Gently, he kissed each and ever inch of her scarred back.