Genre: Romance, m-preg, au
Disclaimer: I do not own Arashi, only these words.
Summary: Jun is given in an arranged marriage to Lord Sakurai Sho. Against the odds, love blossoms.
A/N: I never meant for this to happen but this has now turned into my first chaptered fic. I have no idea where this is going or where it will end but you are welcome to come along for the ride.
Previously: Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4, Ch 5, Ch 6, Ch 7
The next morning, Jun awoke shortly after sunrise, feeling strangely calm. He had dreamt of Sho and being held tightly in his strong arms, and he chose to see it as a message of comfort from his husband.
He had spent almost the entirety of the previous day in bed, hugging Sho's tear soaked pillow and dozing fitfully. He knew that Nino had sat outside his door for a very long time until Masaki finally came and dragged him away to his own room.
The servants brought his meals up to him and left them in his adjoining bedchamber, nervously knocking upon the door to alert him to their presence, before discreetly disappearing.
Cook had taken great trouble to prepare tempting arrangements of food, accompanied by lemon themed sweets. The single late rose that was set upon the tray in a slender silver vase as decoration, almost made him weep once again. He knew that it was the servant's way of showing him their support and love.
It made him determined to be strong, and to ensure that life for the entire household continued as usual until Sho's return.
Jun stood and stretched, rubbing his back which ached from spending so much time in bed. As he wandered into his own room in search of fresh clothing, he moved across to the window and drew back the curtains, allowing the gentle early morning light to fill the room.
For the first time, he noticed a beautifully folded paper flower sitting on his small writing desk. When he lifted it to examine it more closely, he discovered that it was sitting atop a small silk-wrapped package. Underneath the package was an envelope addressed to him. He recognized his husband's flowing handwriting immediately, and guessed that the flower had been folded by Sho as well.
As he carefully removed the wrapping from his gift, his eyes widened with delight as he discovered nestled amongst the folds a beautiful ring. It was set with a deep purple amethyst and when he slipped it onto his hand it interlocked perfectly with the garnet ring that had been his birthday gift.
With trembling hands Jun broke the seal on the envelope and sat down at the desk to read the note that it contained.
My darling kitten,
Every moment away from you will feel like an hour, and every hour like a lifetime.
Please accept this ring as my pledge and promise of my safe return.
I originally intended to gift it to you upon the birth of our first, precious child, as a reward for your bravery; but when this occurs I know that I will be there by your side, lending you my strength.
I have therefore decided to give it to you now, so that you may look at it upon your hand and be reassured of my love and faithfulness even though we are apart, and draw strength from this knowledge.
Please be brave, my darling, and think of me often, so that I may feel your love wherever I may be.
As a last favour I ask you to talk to our child every day whilst I am away and reassure him of my love for him, and for you, my sweet kitten.
I seal this letter with all the love my heart contains.
I remain, as always,
Your most devoted husband,
Jun felt as if he should be crying after receiving such a beautiful and heartfelt gift and letter, but instead he was experiencing a strong sense of being loved, and an unexpected strength. He stroked his belly and whispered, “Your Papa sends you his love, my sweetling. I think that from today onwards we should find a way to ensure that he is proud of us when he returns to our arms.”
With this new aim in mind Jun sent one of the servants to Masaki’s cottage with a breakfast invitation.
If he was going to take a more active role in the running of the estate and the welfare of those who lived and worked there, then Jun knew that Masaki was the person to speak to first. He was friends with all and passed freely from one level of society to the next with ease, sure of a warm welcome wherever he went.
Jun went to try and rouse Nino from his sleep and invite him down to breakfast as well, but he received only a grumbling moan from within. Remembering clearly his own illness in the mornings Jun decided that perhaps it best to wait until later to speak with his friend.
Masaki was surprised when he entered the dining room. Jun was already sitting alertly at the table, which was covered with an array of tempting foodstuffs.
Jun looked up and smiled widely at Masaki. "The kitchen staff seems to think that I need feeding up," he said as he gestured towards the abundant supply of food.
"You appear to be of good cheer this morning," Masaki replied.
"Indeed, it is a most beautiful day. I am secure in the knowledge that my husband loves me, and my unborn child is swimming contentedly within my belly. Why should I not be happy?" Jun asked, as he helped himself to a heaping portion of bacon.
"Do you not want the lemon custard?" Masaki asked, holding out the dish towards the younger man.
"I do not know why, but lemon has suddenly lost its appeal. This morning my son seems to wish for the salty flavour of bacon. Perhaps it is because I cried all of the salt out of my body yesterday." Jun replied, blushing slightly.
Masaki reached across the table and patted Jun's hand comfortingly. "That is nothing to be ashamed of. It just proves the depth of your feelings towards your husband."
"Yesterday I cried all of the tears I shall shed whilst he is away and shall shed no more. I am determined to prove my worth and ensure that this estate continues to thrive until its master returns," Jun said with heartfelt determination.
"I am pleased that you are reconciled to your husband's departure, but I hope that you will not overtax yourself again. You are only recently recovered from a severe fever, and I would not wish for you to relapse. I have more than enough trouble keeping Nino in check."
Jun looked at Masaki with disbelieving eyes. "I know my limits and shall not exceed them. But, you did not really tell Nino how to comport himself, as if he is a recalcitrant child?"
"Since he agreed to marry me I feel that he is more of my responsibility than ever," Masaki replied, with a somewhat ashamed expression.
"And how did he respond?"
"He threw a bowl at me which hit me on the head," Masaki replied with a laugh.
"I could speak with him on your behalf if you wish."
"Thank you for your generous offer, but if he is to become my husband I must learn to fight my own battles."
"I wish you luck. Perhaps if you take him a tray of food up with you he may be more forgiving."
"True," Masaki laughingly agreed. "Perhaps I should throw the food into the room, and retreat to a safe distance."
"If you did that, then I do not think that any distance would be safe."
Masaki and Jun talked of the running of the Estate during Sho's absence.
Masaki promised to invite the key personnel, including Sho's steward and the housekeeper to attend weekly meeting with Jun. This way Jun could be assured that things were being run as he saw fit, and it would alert him to any potential problems. Masaki was proud of this new, more mature Jun, who seemed to be determined to make his absent husband proud.
It would be something that Masaki would write in his first update letter to King Ohno, knowing that he would be happy to hear that Jun was taking this enforced separation better than expected. He knew that the King had a large soft spot for the teenager, treating him almost as if he was one of his own children. There seemed to be a connection between the two, almost as if they had met before the King's visit to the Manor, which was, of course, impossible, Masaki thought.
After eating his fill, Masaki loaded a tray with one of each type of food from the table. He had no idea what Nino could eat, as his tastes changed daily, depending upon his mood and the severity of his morning sickness.
Jun patted him consolingly on the shoulder, before knocking sharply upon Nino's door. Masaki did not even have a second to compose himself, before Jun opened the door and pushed him in, closing the door firmly behind him.
Masaki was left gazing helplessly at Nino who was sitting up in bed, with a fierce expression upon his face; even his hair seemed to be standing angrily up from his head as he glared at Masaki.
"Have you come to lecture me again?"
"My dear, I did not lecture you, I was merely concerned for your welfare," Masaki replied as he edged further into the room, and placed the tray down upon a nearby footstool.
"You dragged me away from Jun's door as if I was a misbehaving puppy," Nino pouted.
"How else would you describe your behaviour? You cannot truly believe that sitting on that hard floor for even more hours than you already had, would be good for your wellbeing?"
"I must care for Jun's health. He is pregnant and vulnerable. In his condition he needs special treatment."
Masaki could not believe that his lover could be so dense, "Nino, my love, are you not forgetting something?"
"Are you implying that I am stupid also?" Nino snarled, as he got out of bed and advanced angrily towards Masaki.
Nino raised his fists to strike, but Masaki was faster and stronger, catching Nino's hands with his own and pulling them close to his body.
"Not stupid, my tiger, but perhaps forgetful; did you forget our child rests within your own belly? Do you not realize that I am just as protective of you as you are of Jun? And do not try and argue that you are different. You are only slightly older than Jun, and still a teenager yourself. Your pregnancy carries the same risks that his does, and that is exactly why I shall continue behave in such a fashion, until both you and our baby have made it through a successful delivery."
Masaki had never spoken to Nino in such forceful tones before, whilst radiating such assured strength. Nino found himself unaccountably enjoying the feeling of being treated as if were fragile.
Forgetting their argument for the moment, Nino was finding the tight grip that Masaki had upon his wrists to be quite exciting, and he felt himself growing hard at the thought that his lover might be persuaded to do more.
"Nino?" Masaki asked, confused by Nino's silence.
"Perhaps you should teach me a lesson about submitting," Nino purred.
Masaki found it suddenly hard to breathe as he picked up on the meaning of Nino's words. "Perhaps I should," Masaki said as he captured Nino's lips with his own.
Nino would never have imagined how thrilling it was to surrender control to someone else; he had fought all of his life to not allow anyone to hold such power over him.
But as he stood, bent over the table that stood on the corner of his room, hands tied behind his back, as Masaki thrust into him from behind, it was the most thrilling feeling he had ever experienced.
"M-Masa, harder, p-please," Nino moaned in ecstasy.
"Still so demanding," groaned Masaki, as he obeyed, making the table rock precariously with the force of his movements. He had one hand wrapped around Nino's hips, supporting him, while he gripped the base of Nino's cock tightly with the other. "If I allow you to come, will you listen to me more in the future?"
"Yes, yes, just...please" Nino begged.
"Fine, my love, but remember your promise," Masaki said, as he began to pump Nino's cock, hard and fast, in time with his thrusts.
Soon Nino was coming with a desperate scream, as Masaki continued to snap his hips throughout, until he found his own release.
After carefully withdrawing, Masaki untied the scarf that was binding Nino's hands together. There were faint marks on the tender skin that Masaki gently massaged, before taking Nino in his arms and depositing him on the bed.
"Did you mean it when you said that you would pay me more heed in future?" Masaki asked after had cleaned them both and carried the tray of food over to the bed.
"Will we make love like that again if I agree?" Nino asked with a smirk, as he took a piece of cheese and some bread from the tray. He placed the cheese on the bread and topped it with a generous scoop of honey, before adding a slice of bacon.
Masaki looked slightly queasy at the sight of Nino devouring his strange breakfast as he replied, "I am serious, my love. Please take heed when I tell you if I think that you are overdoing things and not caring enough for your own welfare. Your recent training in the healing arts should have given you enough knowledge to know this yourself."
Nino paused his munching to apologise, "I am sorry Masa. I am sorely afraid, and I take my fears out on you, rather than admit to them. Jun is three months ahead of me on this adventure and it is as if I can see my own future unfolding before me."
"Kazu, my dearest love, I promise that you have no reason to fear the future, for I shall be at your side always,” Masaki said as he pressed a kiss to Nino's salty and sweet flavoured lips.
A week later Jun wondered at Masaki’s absence. The Healer had not yet joined him for their regular breakfast meeting. He would have been tempted to blame Nino for distracting Masaki, but Nino was sitting at the far end of the table dipping cheese in honey and eating it with every appearance of happiness.
"Nino, do you not suffer from sickness in the morning any longer?” Jun asked jealously, as he chewed on a piece of crispy bacon.
"Not if I add honey. It is a most miraculous thing. You should try it," Nino replied as he slid the honeypot to Jun's end of the table.
Jun gave it a tentative sniff before dipping his next slice of bacon into it. A slow smile spread across his face as he nibbled the edge of the slice. "His Majesty told me that the Queen enjoyed honey throughout one of her pregnancies, so there must be something beneficial to it. I must concur that the taste is most agreeable."
"Try and convince Masaki of it if you are able, because if he sees us eating in this fashion, he is sure to scold us," Nino said as he dripped honey onto a bowl of rice.
When Masaki finally joined them Jun was ready to defend the fact that he was presently occupied with smearing a pork sausage with honey. It was therefore most disconcerting when Masaki seemed not to notice, as he took his seat without acknowledging the presence of ether of them and placed a single slice of toast on his plate.
"Masaki, is all well with you?” Jun asked, with a worried frown.
Nino leant over and spread the toast with a generous layer of butter, saying, "You cannot eat that completely dry, Masa, you will choke, and I do not have enough healing skills yet to be sure of saving you."
Nino's attempt at a joke flew straight over Masaki's head, as the Healer sighed and took a bite of his toast, seeming to not even notice that Nino had added to it.
"Masaki?" Jun repeated, louder this time.
"I am sorry if my mind appears occupied. The fever that you two suffered has spread to the village and many are sick. I am puzzled as to how I may find the time to treat them all."
"You do not have to do it alone," Nino said eagerly, "I can help you with the distillation and distribution of the necessary medicine."
"But, my dearest…," Masaki began.
“That sounds like a splendid idea,” Jun said, cutting in before Masaki could protest. “Since we have already recovered from the same fever it is my understanding that you will be in no danger of reinfection, and you will have the chance to put your training into use.”
Masaki realized that once again he had been about to treat Nino as an invalid, and earn himself a well-deserved tongue lashing. Instead he replied, “Thank you Kazu, you will be doing me a great service.”
The couple was soon wrapped up in a technical discussion of which herbs would need replenishing and how they would divide the tasks that would be required. Still talking animatedly, they took their leave of Jun, who was sitting disconsolately at his end of the table, feeling once again left out of matters of importance.
After finishing breakfast alone, Jun returned to his chamber and sat at his desk to write a letter to Sho. He knew that Masaki had promised to send reports of his welfare to King Ohno, something that made him feel quite embarrassed; to be singled out by the Monarch in such a way for special attention was most unusual. It was therefore his plan to include a letter to his beloved husband with each of Masaki’s missives. As his letters would be included with the delivery to the King, they were sure to be received by Sho in record time.
As he sat contemplating what to write that would best reassure his husband of his wellbeing, his baby kicked his bladder very hard indeed, making him wince.
“My sweetling, do not fret, I shall not forget to send your love to your Papa,” Jun said as he lovingly stroked his belly in response. “But what news can I send him to prove that we are doing our best for the Estate?”
After writing his message of love, Jun decided to bake some of King Ohno’s favoured lemon shortbreads to send with the letters. He would add a postscript to Sho, telling him to share them with the Monarch.
It was nearing lunchtime as he reached the kitchens; the place seemed to be in chaos, and a large portion of the staff absent. Cook was looking most distressed, her hair escaping from the cap she always work atop her head to cover her hair, and her cheeks were flushed.
“Madam, you do not appear to be yourself,” Jun chided, as he forced the middle-aged woman to sit at the table. “It looks to me as if you are suffering from a fever.”
“Me and half of the staff,” she replied. “Whatever shall we do for meals?”
“We shall have to make do until you are well. There are plenty of loaves of bread from your baking day yesterday, and a sufficient supply of cold cooked meats in the larder.”
“But, sir, you and the babe need good, hot, nourishing foods. I cannot stand it to think of you eating so poorly.”
“It is you, and the other staff who need taking care of,” Jun replied, as a thought came to him. “Are your assistants still well?”
“The youngest one is, but she is barely seventeen. Young people of that age are rarely reliable,” Cooks cheeks burned an even deeper red, as she realized what she had said. “Begging your pardon, sir, of course I did not refer to you.”
“Never mind, the fever makes us say some very strange things when we are in its grip,” Jun replied, as he vaguely recalled the conversation regarding the sexual prowess of their partners that he and Nino had enjoyed whilst they were so afflicted. “Please go and lay down. I shall arrange some lunch for you as best I can.”
“I shall brook no argument. I have become quite familiar with your domain over the past few weeks, and I am sure that your assistant has enough skills to assist me in preparing a simple, yet nourishing, meal.”
Jun was feeling quite excited by the prospect of proving himself worthy of Sho at last.
Masaki and Nino had spent a very busy morning preparing their medicines and now were in the village treating their patients. Jun had sent a messenger requesting that they visit the servants at the Manor upon their return as many there were afflicted as well.
Nino was looking quite pale and Masaki was concerned; they had eaten nothing since breakfast and Nino was beginning to flag.
“Nino, my dear, perhaps you should rest?” Masaki asked, hoping that by expressing his thoughts as a question rather than instruction, he might be spared his lover’s wrath.
It turned out to be a vain hope as Nino instantly turned upon him, snarling, “Do not even dare to lecture me. I enjoyed a full breakfast, whilst you only ate half a slice of toast. If anyone is likely to fall down, it will not be me.”
“But I am not pregnant. It is not just you who needs nourishing,” Masaki replied, the stress seemingly making him reckless.
Nino threw an empty medicine bottle with considerable force at Masaki’s head, but the older man was more practised at dodging by now and it missed its target by quite a wide margin.
Unfortunately it did not miss someone else if the startled “Ow” that came from nearby was any indication.
Nino was mortified to see Jun standing not far behind Masaki, and rubbing his shoulder whilst grimacing.
“If that is the welcome I shall receive, perhaps I should return home,” Jun complained.
"I...I am so sorry," Nino said, dropping down on his haunches as if all of his strength had left suddenly. "I do not know what comes over me sometimes recently; my emotions control my actions before I can consider the consequences. When I think of how seriously I may have injured you or your baby..."
Nino hiccuped as he suppressed a sob and tried to contain the tears that welled in his eyes.
Masaki hesitated to offer Nino assistance, fearing that he would only upset his lover even more than he had already.
Jun, however, had no such fears as he brushed past the Healer and knelt next to Nino, pulling him into a consoling hug. He brushed the tears off Nino's face and said, "Never fear. I am not that delicate and your strength is not so great. And don't blame your poor innocent child for your bad temper. From my perspective you have always been this way, even since we were small."
Nino went from tears to outrage within a split second, before Jun started giggling, "The look upon your face. I am sorry to tease you so, but you will agree that I have stopped the flow of your tears."
Nino blinked a few times, before joining Jun's laughter. He wriggled out of Jun's embrace and rose to his feet, leaving Jun stranded on the ground.
"Nino, help," Jun whined, holding his hands out, "I cannot rise by myself."
"Fine," Nino huffed, as he called to Masaki to pull Jun to his feet, sensibly acknowledging that he should not be straining himself either.
Once Jun was once again upright, and Masaki had checked his bruised shoulder, he was able to explain the reason for his presence in the village.
"Many of the staff at the Manor have caught the fever as well, so I offered Cook my help to ensure all at the Manor are being fed. Whilst I was doing that, I realized that the situation here would be worse, so I made extra," Jun said proudly, as he signalled his men to bring forth a small wagon.
The wagon was loaded with a vast pot of vegetable soup and an equally large one of cooked rice.
“But Jun, where did you obtain such a quantity of ingredients from at such short notice?” Masaki asked.
“I simply sent the word out to the local farmers asking for their assistance. A lot of them have sick wives and children at home, and were grateful to receive a hot cooked meal in return as well in payment for their produce. Cook was in no position to tell me how she usually organizes such things, so I simply improvised,” Jun replied, with a wide smile adorning his face. “And before you start to fuss, I mostly supervised and had one of the gardeners do the heavy work.”
Word soon spread quickly and before long all of the villagers who were able lined up to receive portions of the food to take back to their ill family members.
Jun did not wish to admit it, but he was soon starting to tire. His ankles began to swell from standing upon the hard ground for too long. One of the grandmothers of the village noticed his discomfort and invited him to rest in her cottage. Her daughter was one of those afflicted by the fever, so she was caring for her four small grandchildren by herself in her tiny but perfectly neat home.
The four children were shy at first, but before long the baby had crawled up onto Jun’s lap whilst the other three sat at his feet, listening intently as he told them a fairy-tale.
Masaki peeped around the doorway, thinking to rescue Jun if he was overwhelmed by entertaining so many small children at once, but it proved to be unnecessary. Jun seemed to instinctively know how to handle them; he was even wiping the running nose of the baby without showing any signs of distaste. Masaki only hoped that Nino would take so naturally to parenthood, but he doubted that would be the case.
Later that evening the three of them sat slumped in front of the fire in the drawing room. Nino was asleep on the sofa, with his head on Masaki’s lap. Jun was curled up in Sho’s favourite armchair, his feet tucked up behind him, in a posture that should have been impossible, taking his swelling belly into account, but one that he seemed to find more than comfortable.
Masaki was feeling exhausted also and tried to rouse Nino so that they could retire to bed. Nino had relented and that evening finally agreed to share a larger room in the Manor with Masaki until Sho’s return. It had taken all of Jun’s considerable powers of persuasion to make this so, something that Masaki was eternally grateful for.
Nino refused to budge from his comfortable position, digging his nails into Masaki’s thigh when he tried to make him sit up. At the same time, Jun sighed happily and snuggled his face into the velvet cushion that was serving as his pillow.
Masaki knew that there was no way for him to possibly win the battle of getting the other two upstairs to sleep in proper beds, so with a deep sigh, he made himself as comfortable as he could and resigned himself to having a very stiff neck in the morning after sleeping in such an awkward position.
A small amount of discomfort on his part was well worth it, after the amount of effort that Jun and Nino had put into the day.
A few weeks later, Jun was upstairs resting after lunch when a servant hesitantly knocked on his door. Now that he was well into his sixth month of pregnancy he found that he was tiring more easily. Masaki had explained that male pregnancy in the latter months placed a great strain on the body, and that in that respect his youth was more of a hindrance rather than an asset and Jun was already feeling the effects of this.
“I am sorry to disturb, but Sir Ikuta Toma awaits you in the drawing room.”
"Thank you, I shall attend to him shortly, once I have made myself presentable. Please offer him refreshments in the meantime."
While Jun changed his clothing and washed his face, he could not help but to speculate upon the reason behind this visit. He knew of Sir Toma only as a great friend of his husband's, and for his generous offer to allow the use of his beachside cottage on his birthday excursion, as he had not been amongst those who had attended their wedding. As far as Jun knew, Sir Toma was serving alongside his husband at the northern borders at the behest of the King.
Toma had heard Sho speak in glowing terms of his husband on a daily basis for the past month, but he was unprepared for the vision that greeted him when Jun entered the room.
Jun’s hair almost reached to his shoulders and was as black and glossy as a raven’s wing, with a blue sheen where the light touched it. His eyes were large and expressive and a most arresting shade of brown. His shoulders were wide and his hips slender, despite the fact that he carried Sho’s child. Toma dared not even do more than glance at the full lips dotted with beauty marks; else he would be even more distracted from his mission.
Toma had never previously felt any romantic leanings towards a member of his own sex, but something about this young man made desire pool in his stomach.
Feeling suddenly self-conscious of his stained uniform and dusty boots, Toma stood to attention as Jun approached, holding out his hand in greeting. Jun’s fingers were long and beautifully shaped, a pair of linked, glittering rings on his right hand highlighting their delicacy.
Toma wished that he had not been tasked with delivering such urgent and distressing news, which was the cause of him appearing before Jun with no prior notice and looking so unkempt.
“Sir Ikuta, it is a pleasure to meet you at last. My husband always speaks so highly of you,” Jun said as he invited his guest to sit. Sho had never told him that Toma was a very handsome man, with a proud nose and sharp eyes.
“Please, call me Toma. And I will not sit as I do not wish to dirty your furniture. But if I might suggest that you take a seat?”
“I would rather stand. I have been lying down for the past hour and need to stretch my muscles. I hope you do not mind, but I have also advised Aiba Masaki of your arrival, knowing that he is also a great friend of yours and would wish to speak to you also whilst you are here.”
Toma quickly agreed, thinking that it would be best if the healer was at hand when he passed on the news he was carrying to Sho’s husband.
“May I ring for further refreshments?” Jun enquired.
“No, thank you. You have already been so generous and I do not wish to bother you further.”
“I hope that you do not think of me as rude, but I must confess that I am confused about your presence here. I thought that you were in the King’s regiment, serving alongside my dear husband. Are you here at his behest? Is he on his way home? If so, then I must prepare with all haste for his arrival,” Jun replied, unable to contain the excitement in his voice.
“I think it best that my news waits until Masaki is present,” Toma said nervously.
“Sho is my husband, I have the right to know if something is amiss,” Jun said.
He walked over to Toma and clutched the lapels of his jacket, “I demand to know.”
Toma was powerless to resist Jun’s hypnotic eyes as he blurted out, “He was wounded in battle five days ago.”
The room began to revolve around Jun and Toma’s voice seemed to come from a great distance as his vision faded. Toma caught him as Jun began to sway, wrapping his arms around Jun’s waist and instinctively pressing him protectively to his chest to prevent Jun from collapsing to the floor.
At that very moment Masaki entered, eager to speak with Toma and gain news of his best friend and how he had been faring during the past few weeks. The last thing he expected to see was Jun and Toma in the middle of the room, locked in a tight embrace.