It’s gone from late to quite late and no demon attack has materialized yet. Jericho has retired into the village of Naravone, where his and Natsuki’s bots are stationed. One of the houses – since vacated by evacuating residents – is serving as his quarters and temporary command area – when he’s not out in the field.
He’s had a lot of caffinated drink, so he’s still awake to the surprise of no one, just in the process of taking off his shirt and his boots.
Natsu had walked the lines like Jericho had suggested. She’d caught up with Baldur and they’d done their thing. She’s not sure she had a *positive* impact but she knows Baldur did.
It’s a quiet, introspective, woman who enters their lodgings as Jericho’s shirt comes off. “I might need to be late in more often, leannan.” she says from the doorway, watching him.
He can tell her state of being from the link that they share.
Jericho smiles as he lays the shirt aside. Within easy reach in case he needs to get it back on in a hurry. That’s the place they’re at right now.
He sits down on the bed and pats it beside him, inviting her to come over. She’s definitely got his attention even in this place which is… less nice than their usual surroundings.
“Perhaps you should be.” He grins. “How are you, banphrionsa?”
“It’s a nice view to come in to.” Natsu agrees as she starts to move towards him. The chains on her bracelets making a soft sound as her hands rise to let her hair down.
“Worried, leannan. I … don’t want to do this. I … you deserve better than me on the field.” He must know that she worries that he, and possibly Baldur, will be distracted by their worry for her.
“How are you? You seem … so calm.”
Jericho puts his arm around her shoulder and leans back against her. “I have someone I trust to do the right thing, or at least what you think is the right thing. I couldn’t ask for more, Banphrionsa.”
Her other question gets a smile and a small sigh. “I am rather making myself be. We’ve done everything we can. Worrying won’t buy us more men or more time. Now all we can do is wait. How are you holding up?”
“You have to promise me, leannan, you won’t put yourself in danger to save me if things go wrong.” Natsu’s lavender eyes meet his “Promise me, you’ll treat me like any other under your command.” She’s asked that before and it bothers her.
“I know we’ve done everything we can, except get me trained more. I’m … doing alright, leannan.” She sighs again.
“You didn’t answer how your people view me … are you still seeing their hatred of me?”
What she had done to the Guild. She deserves to be reviled by his people.
“I don’t know if I can do that, Nat.” Jericho says quietly, reaching out to take her hand. He squeezes and pulls her a bit closer. “Some of them don’t like you. Some won’t ever accept you. But you’re winning them over, my dear. And I’m definitely noticing.”
Is he just saying that? No, that’s not Jericho’s way. He wouldn’t ever say that just to make her feel better. Because hearing that he’d lied later would just make her feel worse.
“You have to, Jericho. Your people can’t afford to lose you because I’m so green…” Natsu knows what she’s asking of him but she’s asking it anyway. “I’m one of your soldiers, Jericho. You should treat me like that.”
Her fingers thread through his when he takes her hand. The chains moving against her skin. The sign of a bound companion – a legal position in Dogwood. The contract she entered into with Jericho.
Natsu takes a deep breath as she holds Jericho eyes. It’s not like her to not be assertive but she is. “I want us to marry, Jericho. Before anything else happens. If I’m to loose you … I want to have your name.”
It’s so like Natsu, really. Spirited and quicksilver.
“You’re more than that, Suki, and you know that’s true.” Jericho says quietly. When she looks up at him he smiles quietly and reaches up to put his other hand atop hers.
“Right now? I don’t think I have a cleric handy.” They could wake the chaplain, he’s sure. The man would be rather confused, but there are worse ways to get woken up on a night like this.
“Not out there, I’m not, Jericho. You can’t *afford* for me to be.” The smile is returned “I know I’m more than that to you, here, but …” He’s not likely to listen to her. Baldur either. But the part-elf is well aware of what type of liability she is.
“If we could, I would… yes.” Marry him tonight. She doesn’t know if that’s possible. They could go and wake the others, it’s likely they’re not sleeping anyway, wake the chaplain and do this. “I’m not sure it will be good for morale.”
It could go either way because it’s Natsuki. That their Baronet has so much faith in the future that he’ll marry, is a positive. That it’s her … not so much.
“Your banners will be quite put out.” Jericho teases. He probably won’t listen to her, at least with regards to treating her like just another soldier. He doesn’t know if he has that in him. He rather suspects that he does not.
“Truly though, Suki. Do you wish this, this very night?” His tone has changed and become soft and also insistent. He wants to know if this is really what she wants…
“Because if so, then yes. The answer is yes. Though I’m afraid I don’t have your ring here…”
“My banners are well trained, Jericho. Your people saw to that.” Natsu smiles. She won’t push the point but she’s said it. He’ll remember it, at least. He’ll know she won’t hold it against him if he makes the choice against her.
At least out there.
The insistence in his tone has the part-elf holding his gaze again and nodding slowly. “I do, Jericho. With all my heart. I want to make you my husband, take your name and join our Houses completely.” It’s not that being his bound companion is a problem.
“Do … you think we can? We could wake the others….” her brain catches up with her ears “My ring? You … have it already?”
“Of course. I’ve had it for months, my dear.” Jericho says with a quiet smile. “Yes we can wake them. It would be my pleasure and honor to wake them.”
He’s had her ring for months and hadn’t asked. Why, one has to wonder, has he not asked yet.
He stands and then gets on a knee before her. She’s already asked but he wants to make this more formal.
“Will you marry me, Natsuki Taniguchi?”
“I … ” why hadn’t Jericho asked? Was he waiting … for this? For Natsuki to take the final step away from her past? She doesn’t know. “… months? I thought you …” It’s not often that Jericho surprises her, but he has now.
When he takes a knee before her, she holds his hands in hers. “Yes. A thousand times, yes, leannan. I will marry you, Jericho Trent.”
Jericho rises and pulls Natsuki into his arms. And just hugs her tight. And then kisses her gently. On the cheek. Then on the lips. “Then you have made me a very happy man, Banphrionsa. Let’s not waste any time. If… well, if you don’t mind getting your ring later…”
He’s already tugging her out the door. It won’t take long to wake the chaplain and… gather a few people together. Does she want this? A quick ceremony? Jericho had been hoping to give her the moon…
But if all she wants is him, he’ll give her that.
“As long as you don’t mind getting your ring later, leannan.” Natsuki smiles radiantly, returning the hug and the kiss. “You’ll make me a very happy woman.”
She lets him tug her along, not protesting. Does she want this? Yes. He’s already giving her the moon.
If others want a big ceremony, they can do it later. After they deal with the demons.
“I definitely do not mind.” And clearly he doesn’t. Because soon they’re standing out in the village square with the chaplain and Jericho’s main officers. And Natsuki’s main bannermen. All of whom look a bit… confused.
“Um, right. Sorry for the, uh, lack of formality Baronet. Um, Natsuki Taniguchi: Do you consent to this marriage, unforced and of your free will? Will you love and honor the man you are wed to? Will you cleave to him without regard for his status or class?”
Natsu so isn’t dressed to be married. At least Jericho had remembered his shirt in the haste to do this. It makes the part-elf smile though. She did manage to delay their departure just long enough to retrieve something from her bags.
Natsu’s bannermen look between themselves before remembering where they are. When the chaplain starts to speak, they finally snap to attention. Jericho might hear the murmur “He’s really going to marry her, well, I’ll be …”
“I do, Father.” Natsu’s answer is clear as she looks at the Baronet with those lavendar eyes of hers. “To my dying day …”
“And do you, Baronet Trent, consent to this marriage, unforced and of your free will? Will you love and honor the woman you are wed to? Will you cleave to her without regard for her status or class?”
“I do, Father.” Jericho says with a smile and takes Natsuki’s hand.
“Then by the authority of the crown of Dogwood and with the consent of your house and in the presence of these witnesses, I declare you wed. You may kiss-”
Jericho kisses Natsuki.
“- … the bride.”
Natsu smiles as Jericho takes his vow, taking a moment to open the box that she grabbed. In it is a ring, a plain gold band with a rectangular amethyst gem set into it. As he says ‘I do’, she slips it onto his finger. It ‘tingles’ as it interacts with her wild magic.
Then she’s kissed. Rather soundly.
The bannermen actually cheer – some more genuinely than others and there’s sound of drink being poured. Natsu’s Captain approaches the couple and hands them mugs. “Best I could I find on such short notice. Here’s to the Bride and Groom.” He calls out, toasting the newlyweds.
Jericho smiles and kisses Nat once more. “I love it. Sorry I didn’t have yours here. It’s back in my safe, at the factory.” But they’ll get it, presuming they make it out of here alright.
Jericho’s people toast with a cheer, along with Natsuki’s. Jericho himself lifts his glass to his new bride and smiles once again at her. “Here’s to you, Suki.”
“I don’t need a ring, leannan. I have you …” Natsu smiles and actually blushes as her … husband … toasts her. There’s probably a story to that ring. There often is where Natsu is concerned.
“And to you, Jericho. My people, I give you my husband.” Someone starts up playing a whistle and others start to sing. They’ll dance and sing for a while … until they sleep, or the demons fall on them.