Story Content Notes: Coerced consent, violence, patriarchal societies with deeply ingrained sexism (doubly so for the Norns), a woman with her own ideas, and some on-screen sex.
Lady Mildthryth continued to move quickly, declaring the wedding would be the very next day. The ceremony, according to Anglish custom, was held in the morning, as the sun broke the horizon. Reimund did his best to ignore the sick feeling in his stomach. He reminded himself that he was doing what was best for Lady Mildthryth as well as himself. Surely no woman could remain ruling lady for long without being overwhelmed by the position. Disaster would follow.
Most of the ceremony passed in a blur but came into focus during the exchange of vows. He was able to swear without reservation that he would cherish, honor, and protect her. In his own mind, he added a vow to respect her. Ancestors knew she had earned the respect of any man, and did he not owe her at least that much for planning to subvert his promise to be her man?
Then it was her turn. The moment turned crystalline and relief and shame both surged through him as she vowed to cherish, honor and… care for? What?
The priest continued the ceremony as if nothing untoward had happened. Reimund responded as one of the ancient automata, body following the priest’s instructions while his mind rang with shock and horror.
Then the ceremony was over, and the priest and witnesses filed out, leaving he and Lady Mildthryth alone for their first time as a married couple.
He waited until they were alone, then stepped away, putting space between them. “You changed your marriage vows, my lady.”
“I told Father Wistgan we would use an old Anglish alternative. Though I had hoped it would not be necessary.”
He kept himself turned away while he battled with rage and despair.
After a long moment, she spoke again. “Do you have aught else to say sirrah or shall we join the feast?” Ice dripped from her words.
Never since he left the nursery had any woman spoken to him so. He throttled his anger. A step at a time he approached her. She tensed and he knew—as if he could hear her very thoughts—that she was afraid. That she recognized his anger and knew she could not stand against him. But she didn’t back down.
He could take her, might—might–be able to take control of the castle with his men, overwhelm her loyal retainers. Have what should have been his by right, as her husband and lord of these lands.
But if he did, he would no longer have his honor.
He fell, gracelessly, to his knees. “Lady, you have trapped me fairly. You knew how I sought to pervert my vow and now I have no escape. I am your man, heart and mind and blade.”
Almost, he could feel the ancient oath binding him. Trapping past all escape. “What do you wish of me?”
She sighed, and he could hear the relief in it. “Let us go to the feast, my lord. Then we will retire for a time and discuss your service.”
“As you wish, my lady.”
Supper was… difficult. Anglish customs were, as he had noted a dozen times since arriving here, different. Men-at-arms, and even servants, called out comments on their marriage, and the bedding to follow. Early on, he had nearly lunged to his feet at a comment that impugned his… ability to function. The lady put a hand on his knee. “It is custom, my lord,” she said. “To wish us well or offer congratulations would bring bad luck.”
So he gritted his teeth and endured it. His knights took their cue from him and kept the silence. Halfway through the meal, John’s face had taken on a permanent purple color. Reimund was amazed that Damian and Hereweald didn’t need to physically sit on him.
It was a relief when the last course was done and he could stand to offer Lady Mildthryth his arm.
When they reached her rooms, Mildthryth hesitated. Tradition held that the rest of the day was for the married couple to get to know each other. The bedding could take place anytime during the day, the choice of when was left to the couple.
Rumor said that Nornish custom required witnesses to the bedding. But she had no intention of bringing in others to see something so intimate. As well couple in a Dragma longhouse!
Initially, she had planned to spend some time talking with Reimund. Try to make plans for how they would manage their duties. But now she hesitated.
She had been right about the need to stay alert and remind her new husband that she was in charge. But she had shown him the whip hand strongly today. Perhaps it was time for some reward.
She pushed the door open and stepped through. He closed the door behind him and, though he hesitated, knelt before her without needing her to say anything. To her surprise, there was something very appealing about the strong warrior kneeling at her feet. But she pushed that thought aside. It was indeed time to reward her reluctant lord.
“I believe, Lord Reimund, that we may postpone any conversation. We have, after all, other responsibilities to fulfill.” He looked up at her, stoic as usual but she thought she saw a trace of confusion around his eyes. “Come.” She led him into her bedroom.
“Strip, Lord Reimund,” she told him.
His stoicism cracked finally, surprise and a hint of heat peaking out. He was out of his clothes in moments and reached for her.
She shook her head. So… a small reminder was needed. “Lay on the bed, hands behind your head.”
“My lady, do you, ah…”
“I know exactly what I am doing, sirrah. My mother was a proper Dragma warrior maid. She had little patience for Anglish silliness, never mind Nornish. She made sure I would know exactly what to expect on my wedding day.”
He swallowed and laid down.
She began removing her dress. Taking care to do so slowly, teasing him hints of flesh and gradual reveals. By the time she was naked his shaft was standing up from his body, pointing to the ceiling.
She came to the bed and straddled him, trapping his cock so the length of it pressed against her mound.
She ground herself against his length, and he broke off with a gasp. The press of him against her folds was good, but when she parted her folds so her nub ground directly against him it was better. She played with her nipples, tweaking and pulling, adding the slightest hint of pain to the pleasure building within her.
Reimund held himself still and endured. The pleasure was making it hard to think. But it did not, quite, drown out the shame of lying here while his wife pleasured herself with his body.
Then she did something else, he couldn’t see what, and he stopped being able to think at all.
There was a pause, a moment’s stillness as she lifted herself off of him and he moaned at the loss of pleasure.
Then she was lifting his shaft, placing the tip where she wanted it, and lowering herself, engulfing his length, thumb by thumb, until her body had swallowed him and he wanted to cry for the sheer pleasure of her tight wetness.
She began to move, and he lost himself in her and the pleasure she gave him.
When they finished, she lay down beside him, cushioning her head on his shoulder. He lay still, hardly daring to breathe as she nuzzled his neck and sighed.
It had been… truly amazing, beyond any of his previous experiences. She had taken her time, drawing out the pleasure, bringing him to the brink again and again before letting him go over.
He saw no virgin blood on his shaft. Obviously, she had experience and learned well how to play a man’s body. And play him she had. He had been a toy for her use…
“Is something wrong, husband?”
“No.” He cleared his throat, forcing his voice to normalcy. “No, my lady.” Everything was as it should be. His unmanning had begun.
“Will you hold me?”
“Of course, my lady.” Finally, he pulled his hands from behind his head and wrapped his arms around her. She was so small, so fragile. But she would destroy him.
Her hands fluttered over him and his shaft twitched at her touch.
She would destroy him. And if she kept giving such pleasure as this – he might go willingly to the slaughter.
Sometime later, she rose and cleaned herself. He followed her and saw his fear confirmed. No blood, anywhere. His wife was no virgin. Jealousy roared within him. Even this was denied him. And he could do nothing to stop her from continuing to lay with her lovers. The best he could hope was that she would not flaunt them. Surely that would raise too many questions for her to wish when they had this abominable secret to keep.
When they were dressed, he waited to know what she would decree next.
“Send for Henre, Lord Reimund. We will speak in my solar.”
“Yes, my lady.” He bowed and left the room.
Lot of ASS-umptions going around here…