(Love Conquers All)
A week later, Sabina was standing under a shade tree on a bluff overlooking her new Villa, watching some of her men, including Scully, Seamus and Carney carrying furniture and other belongings into her new home.
A pair of familiar arms gathered her close from behind. "There you are, my love," Cerwen said, resting her cheek on the taller woman's shoulder blade.
Sabina rubbed Cerwen's arms. "Yes, dulcissime, here am I."
Cerwen's giggle tickled Sabina's back.
"What is so amusing, carita?"
"Our friends and neighbors. They have a new name for me. Have you heard it?"
Sabina twisted in Cerwen's embrace to face her. "No, I don't think so."
"The townspeople have started calling me Cerwen Skippy." She broke out in another giggle.
"Why is that humorous? It is an incomplete version of my praenomen." Sabina's seriousness made Cerwen laugh harder.
"The name is..." how could Cerwen explain it to an essentially Latin mind. "Skippy is childish and...silly. It is humorous to the ears of Britons."
Sabina shook her head. "I do not understand the humor of Britons. It is most unamusing to me."
Cerwen tried to suppress more laughter, but failing, she buried her face in the curve of Sabina's neck. "That is the best part, darling," she said, between hiccups. "They call you Proconsul Skippy." Then she buried her face again, her shoulder shaking uncontrollably.
Sabina frowned and wondered why she could not find happiness among a people whose ways she understood. After a long moment of laughter, Cerwen looked into Sabina's eyes.
"Are you finished," Sabina asked, feigning annoyance.
Cerwen wiped tears from her eyes, allowing herself one last chortle. "Darling, don't you see? They all know we are...together. It's their way of telling us that they believe in us. As a couple, that is."
"Then why do they not just say, 'We believe in you.'"
Cerwen kissed her lover's lips. "Because that is just not as entertaining, darling dear."
Sabina merely sighed and turned them both around to gaze on their new home. She held Cerwen close and drew small circles at her shoulder.
"The villa is so beautiful," Cerwen said.
Sabina nodded, holding her lover tighter.
"Your mother was right all along," Cerwen whispered, looking up at Sabina's profile.
Sabina looked down at Cerwen's beautiful face. She eyed each of the freckles that she found there. Romulus. Remus. Athena. Julius. Antony. Mars. Aphrodite.
Watching Sabina's gaze flick over her face, Cerwen frowned. "Sabina, are you naming my freckles again?"
Sabina smiled suddenly. "No, not again," she said, touching Cerwen's nose with a finger. "They are the same names as before."
"I don't think anyone would believe how incredibly tender and romantic you are." Cerwen squeezed Sabina's waist.
"No, they would not believe it and that is best." The Proconsul voice of command shaded that statement.
"What of your mother, darling?"
Sabina brought her focus back to Cerwen's green eyes. "What about her?"
"She was right. About this place," she said, her hand sweeping the scene below. "You would move in when you were...married. She knew. Do you think that is why she ordered it to be so big? Too big for us?"
"Is that what we are? Married?"
Cerwen blushed, as she played with the strings of Sabina's chambray shirt. "Aren't we? We live together. The town has given us the same surname. What else is there?" As an after thought, she studied Sabina's face. "Don't you want to be married?" Her brow furrowed because she had not thought of that until now.
Sabina was quiet for a moment. Now was the time for her to do what she must. She cleared her throat. "I was thinking..." Cerwen's face became serious, concerned that Sabina had not answered the question.
"I was thinking," Sabina said again. "About how large the villa is. Even with a portion going for the hospital and military headquarters, it is quite large."
"Yes, it is large." Cerwen was studying the house. It had many, many windows and would take much time to clean. Its roof was already covered in the orange ceramic tiles.
Sabina nodded and looked down at her sandaled feet. Cerwen knew that signal. She returned her gaze to her lover.
"I spoke with the tailor a few days ago," Sabina said, still looking at her feet. "He was telling me about his daughter's..." she coughed "...pregnancy."
Cerwen's lips went thin. Poor Gwendolyn Taylor, unmarried, abducted, raped by Picts and now pregnant. She shook her head, shrugging off the sadness.
Sabina continued to watch Cerwen for signs of understanding. "She does not want the child."
Cerwen nodded. "That is understandable, because of the...rape."
"Yes," Sabina said, her mouth went mysteriously dry as she approached the point of no return. "So I thought we...I thought we...you know, I thought we could..." She noticed Cerwen fix her eyes on her mouth. "I thought we could raise the child. As our very own. Here in the villa. The two of us. Together. Even though you are a grandmother already."
Cerwen's eyes went wide, filling with tears. She hooked an arm around Sabina's neck and pulled her down for a tight hug. "Oh, Sabina, darling, I would love that." She pulled away and gave her a kiss. "You are so...brilliant."
Sabina's smile became smug and she beamed with pride. She was always amazed how Cerwen's pleasure made her content. "This way, you are happy. Gwen may find a husband. The child will be loved and, most important of all, my mother gets another grandchild. I thought it was ingenious, though I do not have much use for diminutive humans myself."
Cerwen threw her head back and her laughter echoed through the river valley below them. "About the child, Sabina, love."
"Yes," she said, absentmindedly running a finger along the neckline of Cerwen's dress, closest to her breasts.
"Gwen is expecting...twins."
"Twins?" Sabina's hand dropped and her brow furrowed.
"Yes, darling. As in two," Cerwen said, studying the Roman's dark face.
"Two?!" Sabina shouted with a hitch that caught the word. "I thought a woman only had one child at a time. I did not know they could have a litter."
Cerwen laughed again, smacking Sabina's ass. "Not a litter, Proconsul. Women do not bear puppies. Twins. Two children."
Cerwen hugged herself, thinking about having two more children. What a blessing! She sighed in utter contentment. "We will have two children, darling," she whispered.
Sabina groaned and cursed the gods for their wicked and perverse sense of humor, at her expense.
"We will have plenty of room, thanks to your mother," Cerwen said, studying the villa again, with renewed interest. She leaned back into her lover's arms. "Imagine them playing there," she pointed to the plaza in the center.
Sabina scratched her head. "As it is said, 'Ubi infantilis ibi insania.'"
"Oh, darling, why does everything in Latin sound beautiful," she said, her voice light and dreamy. "What does it mean?"
Sabina hugged her tight and whispered in her ear. "Where there are children, there is insanity."
Cerwen spun around quickly. Her mouth was open in shock and she smacked Sabina's ass once again. "That is untrue and unkind, Sabina Skippy." She raised an eyebrow to the frown marring Sabina's face at the distortion of her praenomen. "Now. Tell me something true. In Latin."
The Briton wrapped her arms around Sabina's neck and she leaned her hips into her lover. "Very well," Sabina said, placing a finger to her lips in an exaggerated show of contemplation. "How about, 'Dulcissime totam tibi subdo me.'"
Sabina's hand cupped Cerwen's head and she bent down, gently kissing the lips of her one true love.
"What does it mean?"
"Darling, I give myself to you totally."
The corners of Cerwen's mouth curled into a smile and her lips parted to show her teeth. "Beautiful and true. Just like you, my love."
x — Finis — x