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Grasping the Nettle | Chatham Residence, Early Evening, Thurs April 7th

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Charles waited a full ten heartbeats after the door shut behind Mary and the maid before allowing himself a soft sigh of relief. They appeared to have gotten away with it, and Mary did not appear to be suffering second thoughts, not if that heated look over the shoulder was any indication. He grinned hungrily. No, no sign of hesitation there at all.

Charles was not by nature a patient man, but he had learned to mimic it. First, he went to the foot of the stairs to intercept the maid on her return. A quick question to ascertain that Mary was being settled, a gracious offer of thanks, and a polite request that she bring a glass of brandy to the study, if she was not too busy, and he made his own way upstairs. Ensconced in his study, he made a point of immersing himself in his papers as the brandy was brought up. He smiled his thanks and settled in to wait, anticipation thrumming pleasantly through him.


He heard the sound of feet descending the stairs - Mary's own maid, he thought. It was tempting to jump up and rush to her immediately, but Charles forced himself to wait for a slow count of one thousand, and then a second, before rising and stalking out into the halls.

It seemed to him to take an unconscionably time to reach Mary's bedchamber, but he knew it to be necessary - haste was the mother of waste. Pausing for a moment to listen at the door, he cracked it open and slid in, shutting it softly behind him. 

He lingered a moment there, back leaning against the door, just to allow what he was about to do sink in and let the tension ramp higher. He did not mind delayed gratification. Shaking his head, he passed across the floor and seated himself on the bed beside Mary.

In the dim light, Charles could not tell if she was asleep or merely feigning. He had called her 'handsome,' once, he dimly recalled, and that had been unkind of him.

"Beautiful," he whispered now, and leaned down to kiss her.

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Mary had heard him enter, his the soft steps of secrecy that thrilled. But still she kept her eyes closed, hoping she might have a further effect upon him. And by his breath and sigh she knew she had. 

Opening eyes she smiled up at him, in the moment indulging in imaginings of a pure sort of love.  It was quite pure really (if you did not count the immorality of it) her affections for Charles were not the fanciful and uninformed sort. Her feelings for him embraced 'warts and all' knowledge.  Which was not to say that there was an overarching primal attraction.

Smiling though the dim, she cupped his face as they kissed. 

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Of love Charles could not speak, for what could usefully be said of a concept that could be applied with equal ease to one's parents, spouse, friends, dog and favourite food or drink? The term was so broad, so diluted, as to be practically meaningless.

And yet, he thought, breaking off the kiss to drink in the wicked light of her smiling eyes.

And yet, if God had set out to create the Eve for his own Adam, would not the result strongly resemble Mary in both form and character? More than that, there was no need of pretence between the two of them. They each knew the shape of the other's nature, the sharp, jagged edges, the caprice and the pettiness, and found in it a mirror of their own. They knew, too, that they shared what they would term virtues, even if the world might disagree — nerve, wit, cunning, and a willingness to lie the truth out of creation if they thought to gain advantage thereby. And finally, both knew where the other was vulnerable, the places that were not quite covered by steel and ice and polish, and had found that it was not so terrible a thing to bare their own vulnerabilities.

All that, and the glint in her eye and the curve on her lips sets your blood to racing. Not love, no, but close enough for wicked souls such as we.

He laughed softly, deep in his chest, for six months ago he would not have needed tuppence to cut her throat, merely the means to get away with it, and the change seemed wondrous to him.

How much more I know now than then.

But such philosophical thoughts would have to be set aside, for they were things of mind and soul, and there were matters of the body to attend to.

Charles wrapped his arms around Mary, drawing her up into his embrace, and nuzzled at her neck.

"I am almost grateful to that maid," he murmured, voice like liquid silk. "We have greater freedom to... linger here, to take. Our. Time." He kissed up along the soft flesh of her throat, then dragged his lips up along the line of her jaw towards her ear.

"To properly enjoy ourselves," he breathed, and nipped gently at the lobe.


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Mary's eyes closed with a happiness, his kisses sending the sweetest sensations up and down her neck. 

"Bed rest does have something to be said for it." her voice was low and soft, while her fingers explored their way under his jacket, intent push the impediment off over his shoulders,  "but do you know... I am strting to feel rather more invigorated. You don’t happen to have MD as your middle name do you?"  

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Charles laughed softly, drawing back slightly to help Mary remove his justacorps and throwing the offending garment to the floor.

"If I say yes, will you let me examine you? I should like to ascertain the extent of your newfound vigour," he said, trailing his fingers slowly up the soft silk of her nightgown, starting from the hip and meandering up over belly to linger briefly on her breasts, teasing the nipple through the fabric, before pressing on over her throat to gently cup her cheek. He kissed her again, more hungrily this time. He had meant what he said about taking their time, but there was no harm in giving her a glimpse of how badly he wanted her.

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Charles took to the game with a greater readiness than she could have expected.   What did he even mean by examining her?  (by his purring tone it sounded like something nice ladies ought to protest!)  Meanwhile the movement of his hands sent shivers... "And I thought I'd had you at a disadvantage." Mary breathed, her senses reeling, and with an overwelming sensation to simple melt. 

Her hand slid up his chest even as she arched into her caress, and she took a handful of his shirt and pulled him closer still. They kissed, heavily, and she was left breathless with eyes wild. "Do your examination later, I want the medicine first. Now." 

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"You are in some discomfort then?" Charles whispered, eye afire with merry wickedness in the dim light, his hand leaving Mary's cheek to slowly trail southwards once more. "I am loathe to reward such wanton impatience, but under the circumstances, I suppose I can forgo the examination for now. But you shall have to make it up to me."

He took a moment to admire her as best he could in the semi-darkness, her arched back, her hands clenched into fists on his shirt, and, best of all, the wild light shining in her eyes. He growled deep in his throat. Perhaps there was something to be said for getting on with it after all.

"Help me with your nightgown," he said, voice all silk and honey again.

That impediment taken care of, his fingers attacked the last remaining obstacle — the laces of his breeches. (Which had become most confining over the past few minutes, quite unsurprisingly.) He fumbled briefly in his eagerness, swore under his breath, and at the second attempt succeeded in freeing himself.

"That's better," he sighed, smiling at Mary and leaning in to kiss her as he positioned himself, gently lowering her and urging her thighs apart. He let the head of his cock flirt with her for a few moments, just to be cruel, as he allowed himself to savour the anticipation. 

"You look absolutely ravishing like this," he murmured, and slowly thrust home.

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"Make it up to you?!” Though dancing eyes Mary chuckled, "what is this invention of the fine print upon your whim.”   That said she hardly minded the promise solicited, and might indeed agree to nearly anything at the moment. 

Like look at this removing her night gown, which was hardly necessary they both knew.   But here she became stripped quite bare.

“And your shirt.” Fair was fair, “you know how they say of gooses and ganders.”  Though there in the dim she could barely get a decent gander at his prize possession as it was released.  If memory served it was a fine specimen.

They need to work more by feel, warm and urgent hands, little hitches in position, inner thighs that brushed either side of his hips.  “I need no more convincing my dear scallywag.” She breathed, though admittedly she enjoyed his praise, his pause for admiration was seconds of delay that she was impatient to be past – her fingers pressed, nails biting into his back. 

The aching empty void was finally filled, eyes sought into his in a silent moment, if ever Mary's vulnerabilty was exposed it was now. And she no longer cared. 

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Charles smirked, though the effect was probably lost in the dim light.

"By your own admission I have you at a disadvantage," he whispered, "and so I seek to exploit that, as is only natural." His fingers circled teasingly around the engorged bud of Mary's nipple where it protruded under the fabric of her nightgown, as though to emphasise the point. 

Even in the near-darkness, it was exciting to have Mary bare herself for him, and he could not resist the sudden urge to run his hands over the revealed silky smooth flesh.

"Would that I had thought to bring a lamp," he murmured wistfully, and then laughed at her demand. "As you say," he agreed, and moved to strip himself.

Perhaps it is not such a bad thing that I did not bring a lantern, Charles mused as they positioned themselves for boarding (as it were). Working hurriedly in the darkness, guided solely by touch and the unseen brush of flesh on flesh, gave a certain feel of youthful transgression to the thing, and he would not deny that that added spice to the affair.

He laughed softly at Mary's breathed sally, grinding his hips slowly against her.

"Oh, I can tell," he said, and leaned in to whisper in her ear. "You're positively dripping."

He might have drawn matters out further, for he rather enjoyed a bit of cruel teasing, but Mary's nails digging into his back made for a most effective goad to action. (And he was not far off dripping himself, if he was honest.)

He held her eyes as he thrust into her. He marvelled at the easy acceptance of her own vulnerability he saw there, and marvelled yet more to find it echoed in himself. He did not have words, for once, and so he dipped to kiss her again, as though he might communicate this wondrous discovery through the meeting of their lips.

He broke off only when breathless, lips tracking down throat and décolletage to let mouth and tongue play upon her breasts. Further down he set to work in earnest, thrusting in a smooth, steady rhythm. 

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This was not their first, but it was in a way, that other opium-infused-madness was a blur with fact mixing into fiction.  But tonight (Mary at least) was entirely sober.

Her body thrilled at his touch, touch that was far from timid, and laughed with a joyfulness as he seized a moment running hands over her newly exposed flesh. "And you call me impatient!" And it felt good, and she reached for him too.  Meanwhile glad that it was as dark as it was, in case brightness provoked a shyness. "Dripping? I do not like that word." she protested even as she exposed ready their lovers embrace. His body tensed and she instinctively held her breath, to have it driven from lips as he plunged.   

It was some how right

Lips met, energy soared, Mary drank of his kiss, he pounded; the bed made a slow and steady wood on wood squeak from a loose bolt somewhere. Mary bit her lip, those delicious sensations within growing and growing, winding the mechanism within, while she tried to relax, willed herself to let go...  



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"I will concede that we are well matched in our impatience, then," Charles said, altogether too engrossed in the feel of Mary's skin under his hands to quibble overmuch. She was not exactly wrong, either, he acknowledged. He was eager. The touch of her hands left trails of fire over his skin, and he was almost thrumming in pleasurable anticipation. He pressed closer, widening and deepening the scope of his hands' exploration. Just a few moments more, he assured himself, to learn her body and then they could both have what they wanted.

He laughed softly as she protested his choice of words.

"Is there another you would prefer?" he teased, rolling his hips against her core, only to swallow a hiss as her nails dug in. Well, if that was how she wanted it, he was perfectly willing to dispense with the preliminaries.

Is there any sound sweeter than a woman's gasp when you first enter her?

Well, yes, he corrected himself immediately, the ones that followed on from that, but that gasp was nonetheless special, and to be prized.

Even if this is technically the second time you've entered her...

Charles dismissed that train of thought, too caught up in the wonderful, warm, wet feeling of Mary clenching around him. He moaned, only distantly aware of the bed squeaking as he thrust.

"If we're interrupted again I'm not stopping," he half-groaned, only aware that he was speaking once he had finished. "We've waited too long, wasted too much time."

His speech was ragged, all his energy and focus dedicated to the woman underneath him and their mutual pleasure. His pace had increased, he noted dimly, and reached down with a thumb to stimulate that little nub of flesh that ruled a woman's pleasure. He wanted to see Mary peak.

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However impatient for satisfaction as they both might be, “yet we have all night.” Mary purred, raking her fingers down his sides, seeking his lips to kiss of them again. 

It also seemed so very wrong, and upon the eve of Easter even - thank the good Lord they were not Catholic and would have to go to confession for their sins. It had been difficult enough to admit her desire to the recipient, let alone some priest behind a screen.

Dirty talk in bed was unappealing to the lady,  “Say my name…” was her puffed request, her hands having found their way to his hips where they clung, body rising up to meet him with each thrust.  Ankles linking around his back… and then the climax came. 

Mary tried to stifle her whimpers as she was brought to a peak, tried to hold him deep as the tremors shuddered through her body, pulses that were centred around his (dripping?) penis. She clung to him as tight as she could, panting, their breaths mingled, “Oh, oh Charles…” she breathed, her body still tensing and releasing, relaxing even more than before, her limbs becoming heavy.

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Charles laughed, moving to place his lips next to her ear.

"Mary," he murmured, nuzzling at her. "Beautiful, tempestuous Mary."

He thrust into her, his steady rhythm starting to accelerate as the pleasure of their coupling started to overwhelm him. This was a perfect moment, he thought in that part of his mind that still functioned, the sound of their moans and gasped breaths, the sight, however, dim of her pale, bare skin and, most of all, the wonderful warm softness of their joining. How could anything that birthed such ecstasy be a sin? He laughed again with the joy of it, his thumb stealing down to find her pearl and bring her over the edge.

"My Mary," he ground out as his caresses started, his breath coming in harsh pants, "with your sharp tongue and quick wits, your steel spine and your grenadier's arm."

He was not sure which of them peaked first, only that they both did. His climax surged out of him as Mary clenched down around him, her legs locking him in place. (Not that he would have had the wit or the will to withdraw had they not.)

He kissed her gently as they rode the aftershocks together and then rolled from atop her. One arm reached to draw her in to his side, cradling her close, his hand resting on one of the sweetly rounded cheeks of her bum.

"You are wonderfully soft and pleasant to cuddle up to," he said, brushing his lips off the top of her head.

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'My Mary'.  In the heat of the moment those seemed the perfect words, as did his puffed poetry - though some of his thoughts clashed with her own self image (what even was a grenadiers arm?) 

 "Shh..." she hushed as all energy disappeared, and they just lay together like that.  Closing her eyes she indulged in the moment,  placing a soft kiss on his chest. "You really do talk too much Charles." perhaps she even liked his talkativeness, she was not sure. Laying there like that felt very nice, and she wondered if they might do it again.  Tomorrow night, and perhaps many nights. Laying quietly, enjoying the closeness as breaths returned to normal, Mary fancied life might be perfectly just like this. She slid her leg, crooked, over his. It was not even possible to be any more comfortable than this.   

But. She did not want to exist in poverty, and she'd come to guess that was the situation currently.  Money was the sole reason she was so interested to remarry, well that, and attention.

"How much money trouble is Chatham actually in Charles?" was her question into the darkness. 

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The grenadier's arm had been a suddenly remembered reference to their first proper conversation, over breakfast in St Marks. He had charged right past the line, as was his wont, and Mary had slapped him. It had been one of the first things that had made him think she might be interesting, and so he had laughed and complimented her on the strength of her arm.

Charles laughed again now, a deep rumble in his chest as Mary complained of his verboseness, but said nothing in reply. He could not really argue and so, rather than give her further ammunition, he just squeezed her bum and settled in to enjoy the exquisite feeling of her closeness in warm, satiated silence.

Her question shattered that like a cannon ball would a stained glass window, letting the icy winds of reality intrude on their toasty refuge of contentment.

"Not so bad as one might fear, but worse than one might hope," he said, voice for once entirely free of artifice.

"There is no immediate danger. I have paid off and consolidated well enough that we need not fear on that score, but we are left... limited. That rankles me, I do not mind admitting. We are vulnerable, too, to unexpected calls on our purse, and I worry that there is something in Father's dealings that I have missed that might prove ruinous."

"It is the girls' dowries that concern me most," he admitted at last. "I do not see how I can settle either of them properly, and I'll swim in blood before I wed them to merchants."

He sighed. Common knowledge suggested that voicing his problems aloud like that should alleviate them. He had only found it draining.

Edited by Charles Audley
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So he explained, her fingers idly stroked his side as he did so.  For Mary did not see it as a mood shattered at all, more that it was sharing into yet another and quite private thing.  It was the first time she'd let on she knew anything about that at all (she'd even made points of having him see her arrivals new hat boxes etc) 

"Then we should work together, I think, to repair that." in a silky voice Mary mused, pleased at his comment on 'the girls'. "But how? You might know I had thought to abandon the Chatham ship entirely, boarding that of some wealthy Lord. But, well, I'm really quite comfortable here." her finger needled his rib, while he might not see her grin, he might read it by the tone.  "Perhaps we should spend more time together even. I mean to scheme." well that was part of it. 

"Tell me, 'my Charles'," Mary thought to return the form of address, "what resources are at our disposal." 

She had her old friend Arbella Chruchill, but the Churchills finances were just as dubious. 

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Despite himself Charles huffed in amusement, lips curving into a pleased smile.

"I'm really quite comfortable with you here too," he said, "in spite of your jabbing at my ribs. As for spending more time together, well, as you say, business before pleasure." He fondled her teasingly for a moment before stopping and moving his hand to her hip. "And I find that I enjoy the thought of scheming with you."

'My Charles,' had a very pleasing sound he thought, even if a part of him was instinctively wary of the sentiments underlying it. Still, sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander, and he really did enjoy hearing the words in Mary's silken tones. He shifted slightly, as much to keep his limbs awake as to make himself comfortable, and considered her question.

"Well, we have you and me, both quick of wit and quick of tongue, and both officially unattached," he began. "This house and the manor. A seat in the Lords. My commission, which could prove supremely useful if events move us to a proper war, and can at need be sold if they do not. I would rather avoid that if at all practical, though." He frowned. "We each have connections with the Churchills, though again I would be loathe to trespass on that friendship. I've been introduced to York and a handful of other court notables, and I have a passing acquaintance with the King, Buckingham and a few of their intimates. Winchilsea and I could not be called friends, but we have a working relationship. I have a source of rumours in the palace, too."

He hesitated.

"And there is Cadogan," he said reluctantly. "I could throw him considerably further than I trust him, but he is quite taken with you. Entirely understandably, I will concede," he murmured, his hand starting to stroke slow circles on the outside of her thigh. "Have you any potentially useful connections?"

His other hand came up to twine his fingers with hers where they rested on his chest.

"What we need is a beginning," he whispered, staring up at the darkness hidden ceiling, watching the threads of the world arrange and rearrange themselves as he thought.

"An office or a good marriage or... something. Something that will give us seeds to sow, to later reap a rich harvest."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Hmm..." There was another sort of romance to it, in this postcoital plotting for great futures, Mary found herself rather entranced. "Well ther is Arabella Churchill, but as you say some relationships are not risking to use them as a rung on the latter. Cadogan though, is entirely expendable, if only as just deserts for thinking above himself." which was perhaps a vanity to say, but was true none the less.

Fingers linked, and came to rest with his.  "Those flowers in the foyer came from Sir James Compton, 3rd Earl of Northampton and Constable of the Tower and also Bishop Comptons brother... he's largly unspectacular, but his position is rather a lucrative one thus my interest." 

Charles mused that a start was needed. "A lucky break do you think..." she smiled at the fairy tale sound of that, "I might say that the start we make for ourselves shall be the most satisfactory. Aside from increased funds, what is it that you want? Repect, fear, regognition, or perhaps soemthing else?

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Charles laughed softly to hear Mary describe Cadogan as expendable, one arm drawing her minutely closer to him.

"What does it say of me," he wondered aloud, "That I find hearing you so speak so powerfully attractive?" He kissed the top of her head again. There was, he had discovered, a wonderful intimacy to holding her close and scheming together like this. He was quite glad, now, that she had raised the question of finances. 

He gave a low whistle as she revealed the identity of her suitor.

"You did not let the grass grow under your feet," he said approvingly. "I could take a lesson from your initiative and enterprise." He cocked his head. "Though that reminds me. Who is Lieutenant of the Tower these days, do you know?"

He mock-frowned as Mary spoke of luck.

"I agree with you entirely, though I'll concede that my words give the contrary impression. What I meant to say was this - that if we can but engineer an opening or opportunity we are well able to create further advantage for ourselves."

He laughed again as Mary asked what he wanted.

"Well, most immediately, you," he answered instantly, and then paused a moment to consider a more serious answer.

"I suppose what I really want from life," he said slowly, "is twofold - I wish to be free to be as I am, and I desire the opportunity to exercise my talents to their fullest."

"What do you want?" 


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"Well I'd say it means you are confident in yourself." Mary returned, finding the brief tightening of his embrace (like an approval) oddly pleasing. Her thumb brushed the back of his hand, there was a rather lovely softness forming between them. "Only weak men find strength of character in a woman daunting." 

She was probably complimenting him to say as much, but she didn't even mind that at the moment (her usual motto was to be frugal with praise)

"I would be celebrating more if he was not already married.." she further explained. "...though there are many enough women who do very well as a mistress. But in any case, I thought to play a little game of luring and rejecting with him, and see how eager he might become." huffing a laugh Mary further admitted, "chances are he prefers easier prey."

"Hmm, well I could ask who the Lieutenant is*, discreetly of course."   

But before they got to specifics, defining goals, dreams you might say, seemed wise.  Charles dreams were ethereal things... "By skills, might you mean this insidious way you have of charming ladies." Mary teased, but could not finger poke this time. Her hand was trapped, fingers interlocked. "ah, I see what you did." she huffed another chuckle.

"Something mentally invigorating perhaps, I wonder if Lieutenant of the Tower might satisfy that, and it's aptly military to which you identify..."   

"Myself. Well I do not want to count the cost of dresses, hats, shoes or just anything. I've suffered years of frugality.  Further to that, I would rather like to inspire jealousy in my peers, it's a petty little thing I suppose, but I should think it to be utterly rewarding.  And of course, I want to be sure that the children's futures are firm." 




OOC: well spotted, wiki has noone named lol! 



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"That is certainly true," Charles agreed, nuzzling at Mary and sighing softly at the warm pleasure of their growing intimacy. "I have always wondered at those men who seem to need their women broken like horses. What use is there to a woman without spirit or wit? I cannot fathom it."

He laughed along with her as they talked of Northampton.

"You sell yourself short I think — a man would gladly go to a deal of trouble for you, if he's worth the name. We enjoy the chase, you know," he whispered conspiratorially in her ear. "And there can be no harm in seeing if you can make him dance, surely."

As for the Lieutenant of the Tower...

"It's one of the city aldermen, I think*," Charles said, cudgelling his wits to life, "but I'm hanged if I can remember the name. If you have an opportunity to inquire, I would appreciate it. The favour to be returned in whatever form you might wish, of course." He let the fingers of his free hand trail slowly over her thigh.

It was an unexpected and entirely novel pleasure to have someone to plot with like this, wrapped up in bed like this, just the two of them against the world. He laughed again at Mary's teasing, and brought their linked hands to his lips, pressing a kiss to the inside of her wrist.

"My, what an intricate web I weave," he observed, laughter still bubbling in his voice. "But you mistake me, I think. Oh, you are partially correct — though I protest the use of the word 'insidious,' I am entirely open and upfront about my intentions and in my methods — but I have other talents that I should like to see employed. The Lieutenancy would be a nice start, I think, and the effort to acquire it will at least provide some mental stimulation."

Her own desires were surprisingly simple, though on reflection he was not sure why he should be surprised.

"Worthy goals," he said, sincerely, and then sighed. "I have been remiss, I think, with my siblings. I should have put forth greater effort on behalf of the girls, in particular. There is some time yet for Francis, but the shape of their futures will be set soon."

He shook his head.

"I am not a natural patriarch, I fear. I am not used to having responsibility for anything other than myself or a regiment of soldiers."

He held Mary close.

"But I am bright enough to learn, I think, and I am capable of diligence. God, if that madman Pembroke can manage it, why can't I?" He grinned. "Forgive me my maudlin self-pity."

He lay in silence for a few moments, luxuriating in Mary's softness.

"Is this what marriage is like?" he asked suddenly. "I have a bias against the institution, but I may have to reconsider."



*OOC: Historically, I think it should be Sir John Robinson at this point.

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"It is a lack of trust I think.” Mary completed her two pennies on that topic, “Though more fool them, when twice the intellect on any problem might easier solve it.”

Of which their talk today was an example, for at the very least the both felt more powerful though this sharing.

“Hmm… it is worth the dabble then, and I must admit I’ve enjoyed the amusements with him thus far.” Charles trod a fine line with this support he now showed, a wrong word might imply himself willing to pimp her out for a family advantage.

Perhaps it his continued attention to her body that  helped on that score, Mary sighed a warm sound as his hand stroked her thigh, and she shifted to crook her leg up over his.  “I’ll find out, and see if he’s at all favoured.”  As in hopefully it was not Northhampton’s close relative. “We cant have you getting bored now can we.” If she knew the male mind at all, she knew this.

Her own goals brought him to consider his own new role as family patriarch.  "It is possibly better this way, be a brother first, and the rest will surely follow.  Next recess you might spend some time with them, with us all.” 

Mary was surprised that the previous concern and suspicion she’d had over his motivations with her children (that he would ship them off to boarding schools and the like) was gone.  For the first time in forever she thought they might properly function as a family.  

Perhaps he felt that too, for they were both quiet a while, in a warm embrace that needed nothing more.  

“No this is not like marriage.” It was his turn to break the reverie, Mary could not keep the bitterness from her voice, “here we talk together like peers, but in a marriage it is rare to have any such conversation about anything that is important.” She did not want to talk of his father, while they were laid like this.       



OOC: good link thanks!

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Charles had not even considered the dull implications of his encouragement for Mary. He had meant only to affirm her appeal and to signal that he was not jealous and would not seek to impose limits on her.

"Promise that you will tell me should you cease to enjoy these amusements but Northampton continues to inflict them on you, or if he should prove at all ungentlemanly," he told her, quietly serious. 

He could happily have spent the rest of his life listening to the wonderful soft sounds Mary made under his ministrations. Even without those lovely sensual sighs, he could happily have spent the rest of his life 'ministering' to her.

"If you could," he murmured, "I would esteem it a favour." His fingers trailed over her skin, moving slowly to her inner thigh. "While I think of it, how would you like me to make it up to you? Oh, and worry not over my boredom, for how could I be bored when I gave you?"

It was a strange thing for Charles, to admit that he was unsure of himself with regards to his siblings and his family role, but Mary's advice was probably good, he admitted to himself. He hoped it was, for a part of him he had thought long dead was looking forward to being part of a functional (if deeply unconventional) family again.

"That may well be best," he said aloud, and grinned at her. "How did you acquire such wisdom?" He hugged Mary close to express the thanks he did not wish to try putting into words.

They subsided then into a wonderful warm idyll, taking pleasure in each other's closeness, until like a fool he broke the silence.

He listened to Mary's reply, heard the bitterness. There were deep wounds there, he judged, and he did not want to tear them open. But he had to say something surely, no matter how little either of them might wish to discuss the topic.

"Mary, I... Neither of us wishes to talk about the past, I think, and so we shall not. But know this - so far as I am concerned, if marriage is not like this, then we are better than married."

He kissed her.

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"Well see there, you are already filling the shoes of a patriarch to think of stepping in to protect the family.”  She liked Charles offer should Northampton get out of hand, though she doubted it would ever come to that.  “Thank you.”

Had she ever expressed gratitude to him before? It felt foreign, but also right.

"Oh silly.” By her tone he’d know Mary was smiling, “you are going all romantic on me now, next minute you’ll be reading poetry – which Id only approve of it is was plagiarised and you were cheeky enough to try pass it off as your own.”

“Lets not keep a tally of favors Charles, neither of us are that fond of accounting are we, and… well sometimes it’s simply a pleasure to be what another needs.” Which she said spontaneously, and in hindsight realised, “ah, am I sounding romantic now too?!” She laughed throatily.

He seemed pacified of his concerns in managing the family, which suited her best as she was content to take the leading role in that (but don’t tell Charles).  But how did she get so wise? “I think the greatest part of wisdom, is not the learning but in the reiteration – to fit it smoothly into the others mind. Wisdom is expressing something in a way that others perceive it as right… see I am not wise darling, it’s just that I can phrase it that way.”

Warm and soft… moments shared.  Until it was disrupted, but Charles showed another side of himself then.  He poured oil on the waters, and the troubled feeling just vanished.  “Yes, better…” if she’d been going to say anymore than that, it was gone as she returned his kiss.  A kiss that deepened, feeling to open up her very soul.  Her hands moving. Exploring, discovering, in silence, gentle lingering, drawing out another round of pleasuring…


… it was dark still when she roused to a distant cock crow.  Becoming gradually aware, Mary remembered, and then reached out her hand to see if he was still there.

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"Oh, that laugh does wicked, wicked things to me," Charles murmured, moving appreciatively against Mary. "And yes, you do sound romantic, but I do not mind so much. I agree, in fact, that it is a pleasure in and of itself to act as help mates for one another. We need not count favours." He moved his lips to her ear. "But do say that you will let me spoil you anyway," he breathed.

He snorted at her thoughts on wisdom.

"That is a heartening thought," he murmured. "I have a nimble tongue. Perhaps I shall forge a reputation fro my great wisdom."

That was highly unlikely, as he proved with his deeply unwise words, tearing open old wounds. His eloquence failed him too, leaving with only weapons he was unused to— honesty and sincere emotion.

But that was enough, and the wonderful intimacy of the moment gave birth to renewed physical intimacy. His last coherent thought for some time was that, too, was spice in the wine. But that was altogether too romantic for two such cynics as they.


The cock's crow awoke him, dragging him from the warm comfortable mists of his dreams so smoothly that it took him several moments to realise that he was awake. It was only with the touch of Mary's hand that full knowledge of where he was returned to him. He rolled over and kissed her gently, smiling down at her.

"I shouldn't still be here," he whispered.

But despite his words Charles made no move to leave.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"But I'm glad that you are..." came her reply in a warm sleepy voice, and scooching over closer she embraced Charles, moulding her form into his and content to drift back off to sleep again. 



OOC: shall we wind up about here.  Planny wise, Mary will attend Church with Charles over the easter services, and feel free to 'Blount' her as there. 

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