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Tales of Thanksgiving: A Drabble Collection: 13. The Lesson
For Unsung Heroine is a quibble about Caranthir and Haleth. Heroine has written such beautiful stories about this pairing that it is sometimes hard to force my mind back to my own verse and remember that Haleth/Caranthir is not really canon. This piece is set before their romance escalates, when Caranthir is still having naughty thoughts about his companion under the pretense of teaching her how to properly defend herself with a sword.
This quibble does contain mild sexuality but should be suitable for teenaged and adult audiences.
I gave her a sword and taught her how to use it. Because I feared for her, I said, and her safety as the chief defender of her people. Folding my hand over hers, adjusting her grip in the hilt. "That is correct," I said, yet I did not want to let go, for I loved the touch of her skin. Her pale hair, eager face turned to mine. Freckles across her nose, giving an illusion of perpetual youth but for her gray eyes far too grave.
"Once," she told me, "my eyes were blue.
"Then my father and my brother died."
Yet it was a midsummer's day, beautiful, with a sky so blue and untroubled as to sear the eyes of one who gazed too long upon it. "Today is a day full of hope," I told her, tightening my hand on hers, "and thoughts only of the future."
How I longed to see her turn to me and smile as her eyes met mine. Blue eyes met mine. I adjusted her stance. She resisted my touch, then succumbed. She moved with me, flesh no longer resisting the touch of flesh. Slowly, she parried with me. Like dancing, I longed to tell her, but I suspected that she knew nothing of that.
She was but twenty years old-young in the years of her people and a mere babe in the years of mine-yet there were lines beside her mouth from too much frowning.
I counted carefully, and she matched her steps to my voice. For each count, my heart pounded hard against my chest, three times. Sweat prickled beneath my light armor. Yet her movements were careful and studied, and I knew that she was not watching the way that my body danced so perfectly through the air, as light and graceful as a breeze. Our blades knocked together in an awkward, reluctant rhythm.
Her lips followed my count-one, two, three-but she spoke no word.
Her people had come with crude weapons: knives chipped from stone and heavy hammers that wearied one's arm to wield. Nay, a sword suited her better: a beautiful weapon that complimented her grace and intensity. We began to move faster. She was seamless, boneless. Beautiful.
Yet no match for my skill. When the pace quickened yet again, I easily disarmed her and stood upon her blade in the dust, watching the way that her chest rose and fell rapidly inside her leather armor. The sheen of sweat on her skin. Her eyes turned to mine and reflected the blue sky, and for a moment-
Quavering fingers touched my face, a thumb tracing the contour of my cheek. Her lips were damp and slightly parted, and I lowered my face to hers for a kiss.
I felt it then: a jolt as her lips met mine and the kiss of stone, having cut through my armor in a single swift stroke and coming to rest-cold-against my bare skin beneath.
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