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The Sword

He makes a ritual of it, summoning the servants and the guards as he places a two-edged sword in the center of his bed before lifting her hand to his lips. "Until I return," he says, and she curtsies, saying nothing. He smiles, pulling down his helmet, not touching her, not caring that she does not reach for him, or even the helmet.
They have done all that, he tells himself, the night before.
When he returns, the sword is still there, untouched. He smiles.
He is pleased enough to do it again, and again, and again. Each time his wife curtsies, saying nothing.
When he returns from the fifth trip, however, the sword is gone.
"On my orders, my lord," she tells him.
His lips twist into a snarl. "Your orders."
"When your sister most kindly agreed to share my bed," she says. "To protect my virtue, and for warmth."
The snarl remains. She takes a deep breath and steps to him, placing a tentative hand upon his shoulder. "Surely you would not wish steel between your sister and your wife?"
"No," he says after a moment. He takes her face into two firm hands. "No. But you will take no other into your bed."
"No," she whispers. "That I can swear."
He releases her, striding off: he has much to do on this return. And so he does not see their smiles, or the way their hands and mouths meet, not entirely for virtue, or for warmth.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Author Comments

The tale of leaving a sword in a bed is an old tale from Arthurian legend. I never felt it would be particularly effective. This is just one of the reasons.

- Mari Ness
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