Her heart beat a percussive thump against her chest as she hastened her steps to meet him. The early chill of winter lightly trailed its fingers along her smooth flushed cheeks.

"Laurent!" A single word, a name, a whisper in the wind that captured the hope, joy and pleasure that came from seeing his sorely missed visage. He turned and hurried over to her, the frowns and wrinkles of worry and trouble melting away as he broke into a broad beaming smile. He swept his wife up into his arms and they waltzed round the snow-covered land, her feet barely touching the ground as his strong arms held her close.

"It's cold outside. You should have waited at home!" Laurent gently chided, the twinkle in his eyes belying his apparent disapproval. "Yes I did promise that but I couldn't wait a moment longer to see the rouge who had stolen my heart so many years ago," she apologized as her heart-shaped lips tugged upwards into a smile that managed to be both impish and unrepentant all at once.

Seeing her smile had put his anxieties aside for a moment but all too soon they returned and his smile faded slightly as his forehead again furrowed in worry.

I must let her know.

He let out a long breath he had not know he had been holding. "My love, I'm sorry, but I did not get the j-"

"Laurent! My uncle sent news from Paris. There's a place for an apothecary apprentice!" she told him before he could continue.

His lips closed over the bad news he had been about to say, quietly shepherding them back to their prison.

"That's wonderful news!" he replied. "No," she told him as she took his hand from her waist and guided it to rest on her flat stomach. "That's the good news; the wonderful news is that I'm with child."

Laurent's eyes widened in speechless surprise as his hand rested on the, as yet, unfelt presence of the new life stirring within.