Author's Notes: At last… We have reached Day Seven of Poker Pair Week 2020! The final prompt is "Marriage" from "Cymbidium".

Like with Crescer, this originated as story idea for DGM Plot Bunny Round-Up. In this case, the idea was for a crossover between D. Gray – Man and the 1632 series. I've already talked about the latter in the first story of DGM PBRU, so I won't go into detail about it here. Long story short, the series plays with the basic concept of "What would happen if a small town from early 21st century (specifically the year 2000) America time travels to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648)?" and is comprised of several book threads (the main one, Eastern European, Italian, Asian, etc.) an anthology series called Ring of Fire, and an e-magazine called the Grantville Gazette. And don't get me started on the books printed by the Ring of Fire Press!

It's currently 1637 in the series, and I'm trying not to overly reference events from that year in this story because I don't have the latest entry of the main thread1637: The Polish Maelstrom. Luckily I do have several of the previous books!

Also, I gave up on the 5,000 total word limit for this one. As you can plainly see…

Warnings: PokerPair; Fem!Allen; Aged-Up Characters (Ellen is in her twenties); Crossover; Set in the 1632 series' universe; Established Relationship (obviously); Mentions of sex and kinks (Tyki's interested in-!); Suggestive Language; Dog!Timcanpy; OC; Some fluff; Probable OOC-ness

Disclaimer: Everything that comprises the masterpiece that is D. Gray – Man sadly does not belong to me; it's Katsura Hoshino's property. Same goes for the 1632 series, owned by Eric Flint. Oh well, at least they don't ban people from writing fan fiction based on their respective works like certain others do…


One Past Plus Another Present Equals A Radically New Future

- xXx -

Grantville, United States of Europe, 1638

Ellen let out a few soft pants while she laid on her side, Tyki holding her in his arms while their legs were intertwined. The euphoria from their latest lovemaking session was slowly transitioning into a simmering of contentment. Their clothes were haphazardly strewn about their bedroom and joined by the blankets and top sheet. Only the pillows accompanied the two on the bed, and that was only because they had served their versatile use.

"God… I can barely move. Are you trying to make me miss work tomorrow, Tyki?" she asked while burying her face into the hollow of his neck.

The dark-haired man let out an easy-going snicker at her question. "What? Can't a husband show how much he appreciates his wife, querida?"

"Which he can reasonably accomplish that without six straight rounds of sex, you know."

"Maybe," he conceded with a grin against her hair. "However, you're just so lovely all the time that I can't keep my hands off. Especially when they, in conjunction with other body parts of mine, can pull the sweetest sounds from you…"

Tyki's honeyed words caused Ellen's heart to skip a beat. Even though their wedding had been several months ago, the feeling of newlywed bliss still coated their interactions; especially on his side.

Of course, that didn't mean they dispensed with teasing the other.

With that in mind, she turned her head and drew invisible designs on his left shoulder while musing, "Really? And here I thought you were trying to set a world record or something."

He raised an eyebrow in slight confusion and started stroking her white-bleached hair. "A world record? Is that another up-time concept, querida?" he asked, curiosity clear in his voice.

The young woman tried not to purr at how his fingers massaged her scalp. "Yes. The best definition I have for it is… it's basically recognition for the best or worst achievement of a task or performance in the world."

"I hope you're not implying having sex with me falls under 'worst'," her husband huffed with amusement.

Ellen moved away from her cozy position to send him a wry look. "Don't ask a question you clearly already know the answer to, Tyki."

The older man chuckled and pulled his non-resisting wife back in. "Note taken, querida. Now, I'm guessing that having a world record was a big deal up-time?"

"Yes, very," she confirmed with a soft yawn. "Regardless of what the record was for, whoever held it could count on being featured in at least a few newspaper articles. There was even a book, The Guinness Book of Records, that cataloged records set by people, buildings and animals."

Tyki looked at Ellen with mild surprise. "Buildings and animals, too? My, you up-timers go to the farthest lengths for the strangest things."

"What, like you down-timers don't do the same thing as well? For I certainly remember how you and your friends from the mine bent over backwards in order to get that up-time poker set."

"Hey, that's a different matter entirely, querida," her husband defended with a mock pout. "It was the only one that had all its plastic chips accounted for. Not to mention two packs of cards and poker buttons. All in a metal case, which I'm surprised hadn't been sold off before we got it."

"Oh, I'm not complaining. The set is quite useful for our home games. But you do realize that, from another up-timer's point of view, everything you guys did to get it was rather silly?" she countered while pressing a light kiss on his Adam's apple.

Tyki smirked in response. "Well, I suppose that's true," he laughed before rolling over onto his back, bringing the young woman along to rest on top of him. The hand that had been on her left hip now moved up and down her back. "So, do you remember any world records?"

Ellen finally gave into the urge to purr, enjoying how his fingertips teasingly traced the length of her spine. "Let's see… there was the most hamburgers eaten under three minutes; the world's largest hamburger patty; fastest marathon while flipping a pancake; heaviest green cabbage-"

"That didn't involve food, querida."

"Okay, okay. Um… there was also the world's tallest house of cards; fastest flight across the Atlantic Ocean in a commercial aircraft; longest car… I can't think of any more off the top of my head, but trust me, there were hundreds of them up-time."

The older man chuckled as a sly glint entered his amber eyes. "Then, when you first mentioned it in connection to-"

"That was a joke, Tyki," she interrupted him, a pink blush settling onto her cheeks. "There's never been a world record for most consecutive sex sessions in one night by a married couple."

"Are you sure, querida? After all, you did say there were a lot of them. There are pretty good odds that at least one was related to carnal pleasure… and I wouldn't mind trying to set one such record with you," he cheekily pointed out, bringing both hands to slowly caress the sides of her waist.

Ellen suppressed a shudder of pleasure and instead firmly said, "I'm absolutely sure. Guinness would have never recognized such an accomplishment performed up-time, seeing as they needed to send out representatives for confirmation. And any down-time equivalent that comes along will find it stressful to pursue recognizing it in this world, due to the likelihood of priests and up-timers creating a big fuss about it."

'At least, I hope that will be the case. Otherwise I may never be able to sleep again…'

Her husband let out a snort of light disbelief, though he didn't stop his ministrations on her body. "The priests would publicly tolerate it since those participating would be married, querida. Though as for the up-timers… that's another thing I still don't understand about you. You're absolutely fine with women wearing short skirts and tight pants. Yet when it comes to the subject of sex – something most people will experience at least once – you all turn into sputtering prudes if it's brought up at all."

"That's a rather large over-generalization you just made," the young woman informed with a dry tone, "seeing as the term 'up-timers' applies to Cross."

"Okay, so your former guardian's not as inhibited as the rest. Still, a lot of you approach it in discussion like one would a poisonous snake," he retorted.

"Snakes are venomous, not poisonous, Tyki."

"You get my point, querida."

Ellen rolled her eyes and lifted her head to look straight at him. "Well, I'm afraid you're complaining to the wrong person. Up-time culture – at least of America and Britain – inherited large parts of its reluctance regarding public conversations on sex from the Victorians. Who also publicly upheld the notion of purity to the point of parody."

"Heh, they sound like a joyless bunch. I'm glad it was you up-timers that came here and not them," her husband responded with a crooked grin.

"To be fair, not everyone from that period followed such rigid standards. There was an obvious reason why London housed a lot of prostitutes," the young woman of British origin amended with a light smirk. "Still, they preferred not to flaunt the topic in public. Which the world record you're suggesting would definitely count as."

Then she tilted her head in curiosity while asking, "Why are you so fixated on it, though? Remember I mentioned that Guinness had people to confirm whether or not a record was set? That means, in a hypothetical situation where the record you have in mind can be publicly acknowledged, a perfect stranger would have to watch us… well…"

Tyki laughed at how her blush returned while she trailed off. "The people of this century aren't as obsessed with privacy as those from yours, querida. In the past there were a few times where I'd lain with a woman while someone else was within hearing distance."

"Really? You're going to bring up your past sexual escapades here?" a mildly miffed Ellen grumbled as she poked his cheek.

"Only to illustrate why I wouldn't have been fazed by such a requirement," her husband corrected. Then he took hold of her outstretched hand and kissed the gold wedding band on her ring finger. "Though there is another reason as well."

"Oh? And what, pray tell, is it?"

The older man sent his wife a seductive and shameless grin. "I find the idea of demonstrating how you climax within my embrace to be rather… stimulating."

The young woman's face went through several shades of red as she produced high-pitched squeaks of shock. She eventually buried her face in his chest while whining out, "You are such a bloody pervert, Tyki."

"I'm afraid that's your fault, querida," he teased as he coaxed her head up, revealing a cute pout. "Before we got together, I only dallied with women once a month, and never the same one. But once we did, you ignited a burning desire within me that won't go out no matter what. Not that I'm complaining."

Ellen couldn't help but huff with amusement at his last sentence. "That's a good thing, since we've already vowed 'to death 'til us part,'" she replied, untangling her legs from his to shuffle upwards. Sinking her free hand into his dark wavy locks, she jokingly added, "Then again, its comparatively easier to get a divorce here than in other parts of the USE. So if that day ever comes-"

"Trust me, querida, that will never happen. For either of us."

"How can you be sure of that?" she whispered against his lips.

"Let me show you."

Tyki then pulled her into a slow kiss, re-positioning them so that he was on top and she on the bottom. But just before his hands could stray to more sensitive areas of her body, she heard a soft noise that couldn't have been caused by their activities.

The young woman broke the kiss to ask, "What was that?"

The older man raised an eyebrow in mild confusion. "What was what?"

"That noise. It sounded like a murmur or something."

"It was probably just the house creaking," he shrugged before peppering her throat with light kisses.

Ellen wasn't quite sure that was the true reason, but was soon pulled away from pondering it by her husband's ministrations.

At least until she heard it again; this time it was louder, and clearly coming from the direction of… their bedside table?

"Tyki; Tyki, wait," the white-haired woman said, wiggling out of his embrace. Once free she crawled over to the piece of furniture in question, currently covered up by her nightshirt. The piece of clothing was quickly removed, revealing a baby monitor that was left behind by the previous homeowner.

Ellen picked it up and held it close, carefully listening for any further noises as her husband bemusedly wrapped his arms around her. Sure enough, the baby monitor picked up another clip of audio: this one sounding similar to a whimper.

She looked up at him and asked, "Do you think he's awake?"

"Your dog is also in there, querida. The monitor could have just picked up his whimpers," he reminded her.

But the young woman shook her head in response. "Timcanpy doesn't do that while he's sleeping, though. If anything, it would indicate they're both awake."

Then, as if to prove her point, the monitor came alive with the crying of a baby and the whining of a dog.

Ellen then returned her gaze to Tyki, now accompanied with the raised eyebrow of 'I told you so.' "It's your turn," she simply stated.

He merely hung his head and sighed out, "Sim, querida. (Yes, darling.)"

- x -

Tyki yawned as he stood in front of the door to the nursery. Right after he grasped the door knob and opened it, Timcanpy – a small dog belonging to the up-time breed known as a Pomeranian – bolted through and started tugging on the left leg of his drawstring pants with his teeth. The dark-haired man shook his head in amusement and rescued his pants leg from the dog, saying, "No need for that, I'm already coming in."

The adult slipped into the room and flipped the light switch, instantly bathing an oak crib, baby mobile, changing table and other furniture in a soft yellow glow. 'At least I'm not stumbling about with a candle in hand,' he thought with a chuckle as he walked towards the crib and placed his hands on the rail to peer into it. And there lay his and Ellen's two month old son, Xavier Mana Walker-Mikk.

"Hey there, menino," Tyki whispered as he gently rubbed Xavier's cheek with a knuckle. The soothing touch stopped the baby's loud cries, but they were only replaced by whimpers. His legs smoothly kicked out, further driving his blanket away from his body, and his tiny hands were clenched into fists.

"Let's see what's wrong with you," The amber eyed man said while he moved his hands to pick up his son. As he lifted the baby out of the crib, a mantra hummed at the back of his mind: 'Please don't be a diaper change, please don't be a diaper change, please don't be a diaper change…'

He secured Xavier to his chest and, with light trepidation, patted his son's posterior to find… it was dry as a bone.

"Graças a Deus! (Thank God!)" Tyki groaned with relief, very happy to have avoided the last thing he wanted to do tonight. But then the man winced when his child started another round of crying, this time quite close to his ear. That indicator of a still unsolved problem prompted him to start pacing around the room and lightly rocking Xavier in his arms, all while Timcanpy trailed after them like a furry duckling.

The movement was a technique that always managed to soothe the two month old whenever he was woken up by a loud noise or either he or Ellen wanted him to sleep. Though to be fair, the baby would fall asleep any time he was carried; even if they hadn't intended for him to. The dark-haired man hoped Xavier won't keep this little quirk into adulthood – otherwise it would certainly limit his available modes of transportation to those with other people at the reins.

Unfortunately, while the cries did die back down to whimpers, the baby still wouldn't go back to sleep.

Tyki sighed as he looked down at his son's head, which was miraculously still sporting the short dark locks from his birth. "Just what is keeping you up, menino?" he rhetorically asked the two month old before noticing something odd. Xavier had brought his right fist to his mouth and was sucking on it, briefly calming down before starting to fuss once more. Remembering how those baby books Ellen made him read stated that teething wouldn't start for at least another two months, the only possible explanation left was the simplest.

"Ah," the adult chuckled with understanding as he walked over to a set of drawers. "So you're in the mood for a meal, né, menino? (right, boy?)" Then he saw Timcanpy seated close by with a watchful demeanor and got an idea.

- x -

"I can't believe you used Tim like that," Ellen huffed, arms full with a happily nursing Xavier with a white hand towel strewn across her lap.

"I wouldn't say that, querida," Tyki countered, though the rather cheeky tone in his voice slightly undermined any serious point he might have been trying to make. "He just took one look at the towel I randomly selected and left the room. How was I to know he would end up in front of our room, scratching at the door to get you to open it?"

The young woman replied with a rather unladylike snort as she leaned against his chest while sat between his legs on the bed. The dog in question was quietly curled up by their feet. "Oh, how silly of me. Of course it's a coincidence that he went to fetch me. It had nothing to do with the fact that he's been present while I've breastfed before and knows the specific type of towel I use for it, which was what you 'randomly selected'. No, what happened tonight was merely a happy accident."

The older man smirked at the sarcasm and rested his chin on top of her head. "It wouldn't be the first time," he teased while lightly poking his son's cheek.

Ellen immediately understood that reference. "I would have married you even if I hadn't gotten pregnant, you know," she softly sighed as she went down memory lane. The two had been lovers for about a year at the time she learned about her pregnancy. After being flustered for two hours, the young woman decided she wanted to keep the baby and told Tyki so. She made sure to emphasize that she wouldn't force him to marry her, as she didn't care if their child was born into wedlock or not. However, she also made it clear that she wouldn't force him to stick around if he didn't want to – even though such a scenario would have hurt. Still, she was prepared to use the memories of Mana parenting her as well as aid from her friends to help her as a single mother. And an unrelated father figure who wanted to be around her child would have been better than a biological sire that wanted nothing to do with them, in her opinion.

So the young woman had been caught off guard by the laid back man taking an engagement ring from his pocket and putting it on her finger. When she looked at him in shock, he explained with a wide grin, "I've been trying to give it to you for the past week, but never found the right moment. Until now, that is. Marry me?"

It hadn't quite matched the romantic proposals she had read about in those romance novels borrowed from Lenalee. But then she noticed that his hands nearly trembled as he quickly slipped the ring on her; his voice slightly grew nervous when he asked his question; and his amber eyes intently searched her silver-gray for a positive answer…

Those facts, along with a timely mood swing, brought tears streaming down her face – an act that made the poor man worried he upset her, until she blubbered that they were truly tears of joy and that she would love to marry him. After sharing a very long kiss, the newly-betrothed couple discussed exactly when to hold the wedding. Ellen insisted it be held as soon as possible because she didn't want to wait, nor was she prepared to have her baby bump on display to everyone who would be in attendance. Her fiancé, not really caring when it occurred so long as it did, happily went along with it.

"I know, querida," Tyki replied with a chuckle and a kiss to her temple. "Still, I appreciate the fact he got you walking down the aisle towards me sooner rather than later. Though your rejection of every dress from the local bridal salon did have me nervous for a while."

"Hey, Mrs. Reading ran out of sheath wedding dresses years ago! The only way I could get one without borrowing it from someone else was through Miranda, who thankfully got hold of a Higgins and the appropriate sewing pattern. And better a dress I'll happily keep wearing after a dye-job than some huge ballgown monstrosity I'll have to sell off. Ugh, just thinking about such a waste of money and fabric brings a foul taste to my mouth!"

The dark-haired man chuckled in amusement at his wife's passionate justification. He was well acquainted with her discontent regarding the seventeenth century preference of wide, voluminous skirts and large sleeves for women. To be fair, the Ring of Fire did impact clothing as down-timers were now exposed to several centuries of future fashion trends via books and magazines. But to up-time women such as herself who preferred minimalist, slim silhouettes on the rare occasions they did deviate from pants, current designs still leaned a bit too heavily on the puffy and massively embroidered.

"Although…" she continued, biting her lip as guilt started to rise up, "she definitely lost sleep because of how picky I was regarding Mrs. Reading's selection. And we most likely caused Father Smithson and Father Kircher trouble by rushing to finish the Pre-Cana courses in a month."

"So you didn't like what the woman was selling. That doesn't mean you had to force yourself to buy a dress you were unhappy with," Tyki reasonably pointed out. "Your friend Miranda knew that as well, which is why she volunteered to make a dress for you in the first place. One that reflected your personal tastes and greatly enhanced your attributes, thereby leaving all who saw you in it awe-struck." Then he tilted Ellen's head up so that she could see the seductive grin on his face. "I certainly was."

The young woman felt her cheeks burn and heart flutter as memories of their wedding rose up, the most prominent being the expression on Tyki's face once he saw her coming towards him at the altar. He had sent her many teasing looks of love and lust before that day, after it, and will continue doing it into the future. But the memory of his face at that moment was one she would never forget, for the sheer adoration and affection he felt for her were laid naked for all to see.

Then Ellen exited her head in time for her to hear his next statement. "And as for Smithson and Kircher? They both agreed to let us finish it in one month. Which is smart, considering how few details we needed to work out and how busy both of them are," he shrugged with a rather nonchalant tone.

She shook her head and laughed in response, then looked down at Xavier. Their son was still feeding, tiny fingers gripping part of her nursing nightshirt, as he curiously peered up at her with inherited silver-gray. "It looks like he was really hungry tonight," she idly commented.

"Well, he did get your appetite along with your gorgeous eyes, querida," Tyki teased his wife.

"And he appears to have received your love of naps along with your hair," she teased back, "given how easy it is for him to fall asleep."

"Actually, I share that first attribute with Wisely," the dark-haired man corrected, referencing his teenage nephew.

"That reminds me, when is he and the rest of your family coming to visit?"

Her husband sighed and returned his chin to the top of Ellen's head. "I just got a message from the Earl. He said that he, Road, Wisely, Jasdero and Devit met up in Amsterdam and are taking another ship to Hamburg before riding to Magdeburg via carriage. If they then decide to take the train between there and Grantville – and given how intrigued the Earl is by the concept, it's very likely – they'll arrive about a month from now," he answered, glumly adding on, "Which means we won't get any peace when that time comes."

"Tyki, be reasonable," the young woman gently chided him. "They haven't seen you in person for two years, and before that it had been nearly four years. Of course they'll want to spend as much time with you as possible. Especially since we couldn't invite them to our wedding or send out a formal announcement of Xavier's birth. Though I do suspect you'll no longer be a secret spy after their visit."

"Can any spy in Grantville be considered secret, given Francisco Nasi's vast information network?" The dark-haired man rhetorically questioned with humor.

"Well, you certainly aren't advertising the fact you're a Portuguese fidalgo sending information back to your extended relatives – some who live in countries hostile to the USE, like Spain – while pursuing mining on a whim. I only found that out after being stationed in Venice and catching you returning from an aristocratic party your brother forced you into attending. Which, after learning how the man I'd been exchanging letters with since I joined the USE Army was actually a spy, left me feeling quite miffed to say the least."

"Not like that stopped you from entering my bed in the end. Although I must admit, the cold shoulder you gave me before that was quite… unpleasant. And I rather not experience it ever again."

"Good. That means I successfully got my message across at that time," Ellen lightly smirked.

Shortly afterward Xavier unlatched from her breast, content and with a belly full of milk. The young woman, with the help of her husband, laid the towel upon her shoulder, and then rested their son upon it and patted his back until he let out a rather loud burp. She then moved the cooing baby to rest in the crook of her left arm and gently wiped the dribble from his mouth and chin.

But before she could stand up to coax Xavier to sleep, Tyki's left arm wrapped around the baby and her arm to press her back into his chest. When she lifted her head to look at him, she was pleasantly ambushed by a slow kiss.

Slightly pulling away, the older man murmured out, "Then let me get this message across: Eu vou sempre te amar, querida. Do you understand?"

Eu vou sempre te amar, querida – I will always love you, darling.

Ellen's sliver-gray eyes glittered as she translated that sentence in her head. Back in the 21st century, before she, her friends and their loved ones took a wrong turn into a West Virginian small town and were subsequently trapped by the Ring of Fire, she never would have thought she would ever hear such romantic words from a man who meant it. And yet here she was with a loving husband, as well as beautiful son and a great job with Other People's Money.

Life was absolutely grand.

"Perfectly, love," she answered back with an adoring smile. Then she reached back to pull him into another kiss that he quickly reciprocated. Timcanpy patiently waited for them to stop, while Xavier was happily gurgling away.

All in all, another happy moment for their family.

- xXx -


1632-related Notes:

Grantville – A small mining town from West Virginia sent to the 17th century by the Ring of Fire.

United States of Europe (USE)A constitutional monarchy formed by the up-timers, their German allies and Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden (an actual historical character, in case you don't know). By 1636, one of Europe's great powers, and is currently facing the Ottoman Empire (which had quietly utilized up-time knowledge to successfully take Vienna) in combat.

Up-time – History stretching from 1631 to 2000 of the original timeline.

Up-timer – Someone who was born in the 20th or early 21st century. The population is overwhelmingly American, although one story from the Grantville Gazette centers around a young woman from India.

Down-timer – Someone who was born in the 17th century.

Down-time – History up to the year 1631.

Higgins – Reference to a brand of sewing machines manufactured by the Higgins Sewing Machine Corporation (a company started by four teenagers using the profits from selling up-time dolls).

Ring of Fire – The event that brought Grantville to the 17th century. Named after a ring of fire that surrounded the town before the jump back in time, leaving behind perfectly cliffs in areas where the West Virginian terrain mismatched Thuringian (the region – once belonging to the Ernestine or "Saxon" duchies before the up-timers worked their magic – where Grantville was placed).

Father Nicholas Smithson – Jesuit priest that later transitioned into the secular clergy. Arrived in Grantville to learn about radio, and eventually wrote a guide on how to successfully utilize up-time documents… and established a nondenominational order focused on preventing future accidents, named the Society of Saint Philip of the Screwdriver.

Father Anthanasius Kircher (Historical character) – Jesuit priest famous for attempting to decode Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, dabbling in chemistry, and being a general polymath. In the 1632 series, he traveled to Grantville around 1633 and took up teaching at the local high school, as well as filling in for Father Mazzarre (up-time priest) at St. Marys when the latter had to go to the Most Serene Republic of Venice as an ambassador.

Francisco Nasi – Shephardic Jew who is part of the Abravanel family (one of the oldest and most distinguished Jewish families from the Iberian peninsula; spelled as Abrabanel in the series). Left the Ottoman court in 1631 to back Grantville and ended up the official head of USE espionage. Later moves his operation to Prague after Prime Minister Michael Stearn loses the 1635 election so that the shadow cabinet will have good information.

Amsterdam – Currently the capital of the Netherlands, it was the richest city of the United Provinces (AKA the Dutch Republic) during the Thirty Years War (which overlapped with the Dutch Golden Age). In the 1632 series, the city was under siege by Spanish forces under the leadership of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria (younger brother of King Philip IV of Spain; referred to as Don Fernando). After an agreement that saw the United Provinces reuniting with the Spanish Lowlands – and Don Fernando becoming King of the Netherlands – the city was returned to the official authority of Fredrick Hendrik, Prince of Orange. In reality, however, it still effectively run by the Committee of Correspondence – an organization dedicated to bringing American-style democracy and liberty to early modern Europe.

Hamburg – Currently the second-largest city in Germany, it was a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years War. In the 1632 series, the city became a province of the USE after their refusal to allow the USE Navy to pass through en route to the North Sea resulted in ironclad and timberclad ships destroying the Wallenlagen, their well-fortified defense wall.

Magdeburg – Currently the capital of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, it was burned and around 20,000 of its inhabitants massacred by rioting soldiers under the authority of Johann Tserclaes, Count Tilly (who, to be fair, tried to control them) in 1631. In the 1632 series, the city was quickly rebuilt by the up-timers and their down-timer allies, quickly becoming an industrial center, cultural center, and the national capital of the USE (while also being the capital of Magdeburg Province and an imperial city… wow).

Spain – Currently a constitutional monarchy with King Felipe VI from the House of Bourbon as head of state, it was the world's first global empire under the Habsburgs but eventually started a gradual decline during the Thirty Years War. In the 1632 series, Spain is one of the USE's biggest rivals, having tried to invade it when it was still the New United States (basically Grantville and several allied German cities) and joining the League of Ostend to crush it. Both endeavors failed. By 1636, it's still a power; but its leadership refuses to publicly acknowledge certain up-time knowledge.

Venice – Currently the capital of the Veneto region of Italy, it was a maritime republic with some mainland possessions (AKA Terrafirma) in the middle of its slow decline during the Thirty Years War. In the 1632 series, the republic welcomed a USE envoy in 1634 which led to the two sovereign states becoming trading partners and allies. There is even an airline (Royal Dutch Airlines, formerly known as TransEuropean Airlines) that regularly stops in Venice by 1636.

USE Army – Exactly what it says. Enlistment lasts for three years; Side note: Ellen entered after finishing high school in 1634 and served until 1637.

Other People's Money – A mutual fund started by the Sewing Circle (the four teenagers from earlier) and associates in response to rumors that they had already created one.

Cultural Notes:

Thirty Years War – A war fought mainly in Central Europe that evolved from infighting between Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire to include most European powers. The fighting was started by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II harshly enforcing Catholicism in his lands, which Protestants did not like in the slightest. This would lead the Bohemians to revolt, which eventually lead to the Danish getting involved… then the Dutch… then the Spanish and Portuguese then the English and Scottish… then the Swedish… then the French… for German regions, it depended on which religion their respective ruler followed… By the end, after the Peace of Westphalia was signed: at least 8 million people were killed, including 20% of the German population, because of the battles, disease, starvation and witch hunts; Portugal was fighting Spain for its independence (known as the Portuguese Restoration War; 1640-1668), the latter of which had been forced to recognize Dutch independence; England was preoccupied with the second of three civil wars (which are lumped together as the English Civil War); Sweden and France were now more powerful; and Catholics and Protestants decided to never go to war over religion again. Other religious conflicts did occur in the future, though.

The Guinness Book of Records – Former name for Guinness World Records. First published in 1955 and is still going strong today. Most of the records mentioned were around since at least the 90s, although there were a couple I couldn't verify.

17th century European views regarding sex – While the powers that be officially upheld having sex only once married, they were actually much more pragmatic about it than the Victorians were. They didn't bat an eye at openly-kept mistresses or brides having slightly large midsections as they walked down the aisle. Religious figures were less tolerant, but those who were grounded in the realities of life generally didn't put too much of a fuss so long as babies were born in wedlock (or at least economically supported by the father). They were also much more open about discussing sex.

Prostitutes in the Victorian era – As you might have guessed, the Victorians had a complicated relationship with women of the evening. On one hand, the powers that be proclaimed prostitution as "The Great Social Evil" and went to great (and often horrifying/humiliating) lengths to reform these "fallen women" (a term which included any woman who had pre-marital sex. Even rape victims). But on the other hand, due to increasing industrialization bringing more lonely men to cities where most women strictly guarded their virtue, the sex worker population grew accordingly. One study from the era even claimed that London alone had up to 8,600 painted ladies.

Pre-Cana – Courses devout Catholic couples take before their wedding. Alongside a priest, the couple discuss matters such as finances, faith, work, children, etc. Some churches require Pre-Cana to be completed over a time period of six months, while others can fit it into the course of one day. It gets its name from the wedding feast where Jesus Christ (ie. the person where Christianity gets its name from) turned water into wine.

Fidalgo – Portuguese counterpart of a Spanish hidalgo, nobility with no inherited title and little real property yet were tax-exempt. According to Wikipedia, however, fidalgo was used to refer to members of titled or untitled nobility. Comes from the Galician (native language of Galicia, an autonomous community of Spain that borders Portugal) and Portuguese phrases fillo de algo and filho de algo, both of which literally translate as "son of somebody" in English. Was abolished after the Portuguese monarchy was overthrown in 1910.

Baby Notes:

Newborn baby hair – Some babies are actually born with thick hair. However, this hair is usually shed starting when they're two months old until they're six months old. This is because hormone levels, increased by some of them crossing the placental barrier and circulating throughout the baby's body, start dropping off after birth.

Milestones for two month old babies – Xavier's behavior meets some of the developmental milestones listed by the CDC for his age group. Additional milestones include starting to smile, turning their heads toward sounds and holding their head up along with starting to push up using their arms while on their tummy.

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Yes, I gave Tyki and Ellen a baby boy! And let's just say he won't stay an only child forever~!

Here are the books from the 1632 series/Grantville Gazette/Ring of Fire short stories I referenced for both the story and the notes1632; 1633; 1634: The Galileo Affair; 1634: The Baltic War; 1634: The Bavarian Crisis; 1636: The Kremlin Games; 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught; "Gifts of Providence", GG Volume #55; "Other People's Money", Grantville GazetteIII; "The Society of Saint Philip of the Screwdriver", GG Volume #37; "Steady Girl", Grantville Gazette V; "Sexuality in the Seventeenth Century", GG Volume #62; "The Sewing Circle", Grantville Gazette I; "Royal Dutch Airlines", Ring of Fire III; "She Came Out (of India)", GG Volume #43; and "Can Thou Send Lightning?", GG Volume #7. And I also used Therese Oneill's first book for the Victorian note, but I already talked about it in Crescer.

Boy… I have really been bashing the Victorians this week, haven't I? To be honest, they weren't morons or truly evil. It's just that some of their views regarding topics like sex were either terribly misinformed or simply infuriating (I'm looking at YOU, John Harvey Kellogg).

So, Poker Pair Week 2020 is over now. I started writing these stories as soon as I saw this year's prompts, so I've been preoccupied with them for most of June. My system was to bump up the word count to the next thousand for each of two stories per day.While I ultimately had fun with this, I am glad to go back to working on one story a day. Still, it was a blast!

If you want to tell me anything, leave a review or send me a PM. Stay safe, everyone. Bye~!

(Edit, 7/12/20: made some more grammar changes. Also, I'm getting a strong urge to give this an extra chapter...)