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"If I were a woman as I am a man, in my own bed you would have been."

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Willie stands before the king in the king's bedchamber.

The king wears a dark gown, an older fashion than Jane's gowns, but the fabric as fine, and the decoration more ornate.

He looks beautiful and dangerous, in the firelight and the dark.

"You will show me," the king says, "what you do to please my daughter so well in bed."

It is Willie's nature to stand straight and speak plainly what he will and won't accept, not changing his words to bend to others' strength or exploit their weakness. No, I won't deny getting your daughter Jane with child, even if you kill me for it. Yes, I will marry her, but I won't take your rewards.

That is his love Jane's nature, too. They are as matched in this as two lions pacing fierce together, side by side.

"Take your clothes off," says the king, "and let me see you."

But when her father commanded her to cast off her robe and gown to reveal her rounded belly before him and the court, she did not defy him. She stood naked on the stone, in the sunlight, where everyone could see her, and said no word against it.

His love Jane is no coward, and no fool. He knows this, for he knows her as well as his one hand knows the other.

What does she fear, or know, of her father's answer to disobedience, that she obeyed him even in that?

"In the spring," says the king, "your child will be born. You'll take Jane and the child with you to live on your lands."

It is a long day's ride from the edge of Willie's lands to his home upon them, a longer ride still to reach that edge from this castle. And that is how far Jane will be then from anyone who can make her bow her head in silence. Jane, and their child, too.

"But until then," the king says, "until you become a husband and father, until the belong to me."

Willie bows his head, and reaches for his fastenings.