The Warrior's Heart Ch. 02byLucyKing101©
This is chapter 2, the rest of the story is basically finished, I know how it ends, it just needs a bit of work, there should be 5 chapters total, maybe 6, depending on how long the end is, they'll be coming out every day/every other day now, so don't worry, it will be finished!
Thank you for all comments and votes on the last chapter, it really made my day!
Two days after Matilda arrived at the camp, the crushers arrived and with them all semblance of peace vanished. Leo left to go to the front of the battle. Matilda waited nervously. She could see the smoke in the distance and hear the cry of the injured brought back to camp. The camp had a desperate busyness about it. Matilda had felt useless until the injured had started to arrive. Then she was frantically busy, running to and fro, doing what she could to help the surgeons.
Please be safe Leo, please be safe was like a running mantra through her head. She hardly knew him, yet it continued throughout the night and the next day as she nursed dying men feeling cold and empty. I didn't think I could feel any worse, any more desperate she thought.
News that the battle was over, that they had won, arrived on the third day, they had driven the crushers off, at least for a time. They'd be back though, they always came back Matilda thought.
The doctor finally insisted that she go rest, she stood numbly in Leo's tent, she shouldn't be here she thought. He won't want me here. She hadn't had a chance to seek new accommodation; she had been awake helping without rest for almost three days now.
"Please be safe Leo" she whispered.
She sensed him then and she turned to see him staring at her at the entrance to the tent. He strode across the room and seized her in a bear hug "thank god you're safe." He lowered his head to her neck and breathed in. "You smell terrible" He laughed.
She half choked, half laughed, feeling suddenly shy, "I've been trying to help"
He held her away from him and looked at her "When was the last time you slept? The last time you ate?" He cursed at her blank look and then pulled her to the bed and laid her down. He pushed his head out of the tent and barked some orders at someone.
They lay on their sides staring at each other, his hand absently stroking her hip.
"Are you okay Leo?"
He smiled grimly "Yes, I'm just tired of all this shit. I feel like I've spent my life fighting. Like all the goodness has been leeched out of me, out of the world, and all that's left is blood and death. I thought everything good and pure had gone until I met you. Tell me something good Mattie." He used the shortened form of her name without even thinking.
She nodded "There's still goodness in you Leo, I can see it, and there's so many wonderful things in the world, so many good things, you're helping to protect it." She stroked his brow and told him stories of her childhood that made him laugh. She told him about getting stuck up a tree trying to save a cat, she told him about laughing so hard she'd fallen over, about summer days by the river.
When the food and bath arrived she let him sleep, hesitating she leant over and kissed his forehead. She slipped into the hot water, washing off all the grime felt heavenly. She put on the simple cotton dress they left her and then lay next to Leo and slept.
The next day she watched the men training. They held their swords practising the movements, as Leo paced around them, watching them, occasionally commenting or correcting mistakes. He seemed so cold now, distant and grim, his face an unbreakable mask. She continued to watch the men, she needed to learn to fight she thought, and then she could help Leo, help finally rid the world of the hated crushers. She'd be able to protect herself against men like those who had attacked her and killed her father. She wanted to feel strong again.
She thought about Leo, he had been so good to her, so kind. She couldn't grow close to him. She hated the idea of him growing tired of her and wishing she was gone. It would break her heart, but it would only get harder the longer she left it, she had to leave him. She couldn't afford to fall in love with him. She couldn't lose another person she loved.
That night she tried to talk to him in the tent. "Leo, I wanted to thank you for all you've done for me, you saved my life, saved me from those men. I owe you so much and I will always be grateful to you. I was thinking that you'd probably want your tent back; I shall move to sleep in the servant's quarters. I've spoken to....."
Leo was scowling at her "You won't sleep in the servants quarters. You will stay with me. If you're worried about..... I can keep my damn hands to myself."
"Yes Leo" She said in a small uncertain voice. She didn't know what to say. Uncomfortable she tried to change the subject.
"Leo, I was thinking I should learn to fight to be able to protect myself and to help"
Still angry that she wanted to leave him he frowned "No! Women do not fight, I can protect you!"
"I said no Mattie!" He strode angrily out of the tent.
Leo could barely look at her when he came back late to the tent. She was curled up like a small hurt kitten on the edge of the bed. He should let her go. Yet he couldn't bear the thought of her out there. Unprotected. Matilda was so beautiful, what if someone hurt her. He remembered when he'd found her, covered in blood, about to be raped. Lying down next to her he waited till he was sure she was asleep and then he carefully gathered her up against him, holding her close.
The next day Matilda was furious. How dare he behave in such an autocratic manner! Like she was one of his soldiers he could just order about. Then storming off like a spoilt child, refusing to speak about it. She wanted to learn to fight. There was no reason a woman couldn't do it. Damn him, she was going to learn, with or without his help.
It was late when Leo happened to spot Matilda slipping away from the camp. A cold knot of dread formed in his stomach. What the hell did she think she was doing? Had he pushed her too far yesterday? He followed her at a discrete distance. He could tell she was nervous, doing something she shouldn't, the knot grew. He watched from atop a small hill as she set herself up in a clearing.
She held a large stick and was obviously trying to practice the fighting form he taught his men for one on one combat. He stood staring, as she gave it her all, a slight sheen of sweat visible on her brow. She wasn't as bad as he would have thought for a female novice.
Then he saw the two men in the bushes below approaching her. She swung round alerted to their presence. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but he could see her tense posture as the two men began to move to circle her. He hurried down the hill as quietly as he could.
"Keep away from me" Matilda said "I said keep away."
The bigger of the two grinned "We just want to know you a little better, like the commander did."
Matilda felt her face burn with fury and embarrassment "I am not a whore" she said calmly through gritted teeth "I am sure this has all been a misunderstanding, go now and it will all be forgotten."
"What if we don't want to go?" The other one piped in.
At that moment there was the sound of a man clearing his throat from behind them. They both span around. Matilda didn't waste time looking at the third party and promptly swung her stick as hard as she could into the head of the larger man, who crumpled down unconscious with a slight cry.
The other man span back around "You can't do that."
"I just did." She held the stick firmly.
Leo blinked, he was more than a little surprised, and despite himself he held back a grin. The little minx. "What is the meaning of this?" He said coldly to the remaining man.
The other man backed away "Jem and I were just seeing as if she needed 'elp and she attacked us!" he whined.
"Help?" Matilda scoffed "Like hell you did! You were implying you were going to rape me!"
Leo's fists tightened "John, isn't it?" he said softly.
The other man looked even more worried "Yes sir."
"Go back to camp, take this man with you, I will deal with you when I get back. If you attempt to run, I will find you, and it will be worse for you." The man's eyes widened, and then pulling the other man up over his shoulder he hurried away.
Matilda stared at Leo, he looked magnificent. He looked furious.
"What are you doing out here?" His voice was low and dangerous.
"I'm....." What could she say "I was just...."
The silence lengthened.
"I was practising. Trying to learn how to fight."
"I see. Why? I told you it was not necessary." He stepped closer to her, pushing the stick out of her hands so it fell with a thump to the floor.
She tilted her chin up at him "It bloody well is necessary to me! I need to be able to defend myself, and maybe one day I will be able to help kill the crushers."
It sounded ridiculous now she said it out loud. His hand snaked out, holding her chin prisoner so she could not look away from his golden brown eyes.
"You stubborn little fool" he whispered.
She flinched but his thumb was stroking her cheek ever so softly now and he was lowering her to the soft moss floor, swinging his cloak behind her. He was kissing her, desperate kisses, getting harder and more demanding.
"Leo" Matilda moaned. She felt like she was burning, like a wonderful heat had started to thunder through her body. His hands felt like they were everywhere, on her breasts, pulling her shirt apart and tearing at the buttons on the tight breaches she had donned. He was kissing her neck now, she moaned again.
"You are mine Matilda? Do you understand? Mine." He muttered in-between kisses.
It was like a rush of cold water, she started pushing at him "No!" for a moment she didn't think he heard her, didn't think he'd stop. Then she felt him go still above her. His face buried in her neck. He was breathing heavily. A shaky breath and then he rolled off her, staring into the night sky. Matilda almost rolled with him, to feel his hot kisses again.
"I am not yours, I am not a possession." She stumbled to her feet as he stared dumbly at her, still trying to work out what had happened. She started to hurry back, tears streaming down her face, she felt hot and confused. She couldn't do this. She couldn't get close to someone. She couldn't lose another person. Of all the stupid people to fall in love with! Why had she chosen a soldier! Someone who faced danger every day.
He caught up with her, swinging her round to face him.
"Matilda....." He stopped, staring at her tear stained face.
"Gods, I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me... it won't happen again Mattie."
She shook her head, still confused.
"It is not safe to come out here alone Mattie."
"What else can I do?" She asked softly, struggling not to throw herself at him.
"I will come out with you and teach you then." He said the words before he fully thought them through.
Matilda stared at him.
"You cannot come out here alone, it is either me or nothing."
"Okay then." Matilda sighed.
"Good." He pulled her along beside him as they made their way back to camp.
She was a quick Learner, Leo thought. What she lacked in strength, she made up for in speed. He had been teaching her to fight every day for two weeks. They had by unspoken agreement not mentioned that night again. They lived with an uneasy camaraderie. They would be laughing and joking and then she'd catch him staring or they'd get too close and they'd both tense up. There had been no more kisses. His time with her at night was the best time. The best and the worst. It was torture. He couldn't seem to let her go though. He would never take her by force, but he longed for her, lusted after, if only she would come to him willingly.
He tried to look indifferent as he saw her face, as she swung the large stick seemingly effortlessly through her hands. "Enough" He barked, thinking she looked tired.
He sat on the bank and she came and sat next to him.
Grinning she said "I am getting better though, aren't I Leo?"
"Better" he said "Not good enough yet though Mattie"
She looked philosophical about this statement and nodded "true."
"Leo, why do you continue to help me so? I thought you would have grown tired of it by now."
He said nothing and she saw a muscle ticking in his jaw, she longed to lean over and lick it. She blinked, surprised by herself.
"It doesn't matter Mattie."
"Does it not?" she whispered "Leo... I......"
They stared at each other. She wasn't sure how it happened. Suddenly they were kissing, their hands pulling each other closer. His desperate kisses raining down on her face and neck. "Mattie, Mattie" he murmured.
She was kissing him back. Lost in the moment. She realised that her blouse was open, as his hands stroked and softly needed her breasts, stroking down her stomach. She wanted more of him. Wanted something she couldn't describe. She loved the feel of him, his hard muscles beneath her hands, the pressure and weight of him. She was on her back, her arms wrapped around him, his hot kisses on her face. She felt his tongue as they kissed, how could anything feel so wonderful she thought. She ripped at his shirt desperately, feeling his bare chest. She wriggled out of her breeches, his fingers curled around her sex, strumming softly against her clit and then pushing gently into her dampness. She gasped and shivered at the sensation, feeling it move through her. She strained urgently against him, her hands running up and down his back. He murmured endearments and reassurances in a hot breath against her ear. Telling her how beautiful she was, how much he wanted her. His mouth found her breasts, drawing a desperate cry from her. She felt him smile against her skin as her breath came out in small pants as he began to lick them gently. He came up to kiss her again, his hands running down her body. Then he was positioning himself at her entrance. He looked at her and she nodded. He pushed in with one thrust. She stilled at the searing hot pain. He kissed her, dropping soft kisses on her face and neck, his hands gently stroking her, calming her. Yes she thought dazedly, no arguing about it, she was his now. The pain eased and he began to gently move. She arched up to meet him, her fingers clutching at his back as he thrust into her. He continued to kiss her as he slowly moved in and out of her. She felt a desperate kind of heat snaking through her entire body, and then she felt herself come apart.
Leo felt her coming, and he felt himself go over the edge as he came with her. Then he lay on her for a minute panting, he stroked her cheek tenderly, gods she was beautiful. He rolled over onto his back, pulling her with him and settling her into the crook of his arm. "You were a virgin."
She nodded slightly against his shoulder.
He felt immensely satisfied with himself. Then he panicked. He needed to keep her safe. He had taken her innocence; possibly got her with child, what would happen to her if he died in this god forsaken war. They should marry he thought. Then he could give her the protection of his name, if something happened to him, she would be looked after. Yes, that was the answer.
"We will marry in the morning" he said.
She struggled away from him; he was doing it again, ordering her around, he thought just because she was a virgin that he should marry her. He didn't love her. She felt suddenly desperate.
"No! You can't just assume I'll do exactly as you want. I'm not yours Leo. I'm not!"
She scrambled away from him and ran back towards the camp.
Leo lay on his back, her words echoing in his head.
I am not yours Leo.
He was hers though, as surely as the sun would rise tomorrow, he loved her.