I am safe, and warm, and loved. More than that, I am known. He heard what I had done, and his eyes held only sympathy. His arms reached for me without hesitation. In his eyes, I am still just, and strong, and beloved. I cling to that look and hope that with time I will see what he sees. I trust his sight, his strength now that my own has faltered. Tomorrow, perhaps he will trust my sight, my strength. There is no shame here in naked honesty.
When I told him I needed time away from the blade, there was no disappointment, and no male pride in a woman put into her place. No, there was joy, not because of what my profession is, but because I would be with him, in his room, in his life. He will help me heal, and if I choose to fight, he will love me. If I choose to stay and cook, he will love me. He loves me. He will stand with me when I go to tell Broddi and Ceceil what I have done, and he will still come home with me no matter what. “I miss having you near,” he said. “Make this our home,” he said, “Add whatever you need to feel that it’s more than rented lodgings.” The words come with a new light in his eyes that is more ready to admit to wanting something beyond duty. “When I dream of the future, I dream of you.” Such words give wings to a leaden heart. When his duty calls him, he goes with armour checked over by loving hands. I don’t mind his duty when it’s our duty.
It’s foredawn and grey, and I sleep lightly. I wait for the shudder of his heavy feet on the steps. When I feel it at last, I turn lazily and squirm to the wall edge of the bed, dozing until he slides in beside me and shelters with me in a cave of quilts. I don’t notice the missing sounds when his heart pushes steadily at my cheek in an even caress and his firm, calloused hands snag a little in my curls as he clears them from my drowsy eyes. There is no armour between us here, and together we soothe the nightmares of battle. There is nothing here but love. I have come home.