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Under the Oak Tree

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“Even if you have to grovel at his feet, offer your body, injure yourself or others you cannot allow it to happen! Are we clear you useless wench!”

Her father would not say the word, like it was cursed or tainted. He expressed himself through violence and Yor knew all too well what he meant, what he brought up on any occasion to remind her how much of a failure she really was. He was a terrifying man and the thought of falling even further out of his favor made Yor tremble. The harsh lines defining his face always deepened when she came into his line of sight, but even his eyes had become darker as of late. She was at risk of sullying the family name, ruining their status of power and wealth, lowering them to less than trash. Her father was afraid she would be divorced. 

She knew her husband to be a strong man, blonde, imposing and cold, but she couldn’t recall much else. They had been married on a whim, decided by her father to escape his own conscription. Using some underhanded tactic he forced the marriage and military service onto her husband. The man was undoubtedly bitter, marrying a stupid girl like her. He stayed for the small ceremony, celebratory dinner, taking breaks often and hardly speaking a word to her. The morning after their first night he had vanished, summoned by his commander to go slay some horrible beast. Yor could count on her fingers how many words they had exchanged in total. 

When Loid Forger had left Yor he was the lowest scum, an orphan village boy recruited to a subpar battalion, today he would be returning, after three years, as an Ostanian hero. 

Her husband had risen through the ranks, blown through missions and finally slain a dragon that had taken the lives of hundreds, including members of the royal family. It is said King Desmond himself had knighted him not even a fortnight after he had saved Ostania. He had received honor, fame, fortune, everything a man could wish well as countless offers of marriage. Rumors travel fast but none faster than her husband’s offer of marriage from the king to one of his daughters. No one would dare say it out loud, but even a married man would be a fool not to accept. The church itself had offered to annul his marriage to Yor as an exception, all because a successful knight deserved the princess’s hand. 

Her hand, the hand of the unwanted daughter of some lower rank noble, was no longer needed. 

Yor feared divorce but she also feared what would come out of their marriage if he chose, or was forced, to stay. He might beat her, he was a muscular man, easily frustrated, and would inevitably get tired of her. She was timid and small but used to beatings. There was no way he could be worse than her father, right? He struck her every chance he got, while praising her younger sister, Camilla, for being everything she wasn’t. Camilla was gorgeous, demure and graceful like a china doll. Loid would’ve much rather married her. 

“Unhappy I see.”

Her heart stopped, Yor swore she felt the tears running down her cheeks pause as well.

“My trembling wife,” his voice was as rough as she remembered, “waiting for her husband to come back from the dead.”

She whipped around, in front of her husband she couldn’t appear like this, he would desire her even less. Her hands shook against the wetness of her cheeks as she tried to wipe the tears away. She couldn’t read his expression, his sullen face was set in stone, unchanged since that night three years ago. Loid’s eyebrows were furrowed, his lips set in a thin line, but he was larger and his hair hung over his ears. His form towered over her, engulfing her in his nerve wracking presence. 

“Ah, u-uh,” No matter how much she called on herself she couldn’t speak properly. On reflex she shrunk back, cheeks inflamed, if her father were in the room he would’ve hit her for being a failure. 

“Fuck,” oh god, Yor knew she had done it now. Loid pinched his brow, suddenly staring deep into her eyes, “you’re afraid of me aren’t you.”

She had really messed up, her future was secured, he would divorce his pitiful wife and move on to better things. Her presence was of no use, she had no skills, no prospects, and by the looks of it he was tired of her. Inadvertently she stumbled back, eyes squeezed shut, she had been afraid before, Loid was right, but she had to convince him otherwise. 

Her hands still shook violently, but she had to do something about his back turning to face away from her, and eventually leave forever. Out of pure instinct her hand reached out, she leaned forward just enough to catch the end of his cape. 

“W- wait! Please don’t go just yet I-,” his piercing gaze made her trail off once more. Under the intense heat of her husband’s glare she was petrified. Her blush began to cover her entire complexion, but thinking about it only made her more embarrassed. How could she explain herself when he was looking at her like that? His existence was the personification of power, and Yor was powerless. But it was either death or try to act like a proper wife and the choice was obvious.

“You have it wrong I- I was only nervous.” She looked to the ground again, she’s said all she could, though it may not be enough. This entire interaction Yor’s been preparing herself for the taboo word, divorce, but now that it might come she was paralyzed. Her violent shaking had spread from her hands all the way to the crest of her shoulders. Even her pupils couldn’t stay focused on one spot, they scanned the ground, back and forth, back and forth, in agony. 

“Haa,” she cannot see her husband’s face but his sigh can be felt on her skin,”woman, I can’t understand you.”

And his forehead is resting against hers. The cool metal of his armored hand settles against her cheek before she can even react to his actions. It’s hard, rough and shocking, but still comforting as it caresses her face so gently. Only out of reflex do her eyes snap shut, but Yor is grateful. She’s confused, her mind doesn’t understand his actions, but her body shut down, not prepared for the moment of tenderness. If she saw Loid’s face right now she might combust. 

“Fuck,” his breathy voice is more than she can handle. Yor’s eye’s opened before she could think about holding herself back. Her eyes widened, this is the closest she’s ever seen her husband and he is gorgeous. Handsome can’t even match the overall prowess of this man. He has a scar cutting his jawline on his right side. It’s without a doubt a freshly healed wound, and Yor feels sympathy for her husband, this stranger. He scares her but this scar, it humanizes him. As his wife it’s all she can do to bring him comfort, if she can do it now maybe he’ll keep her around, proposal from the princess or not. 

He shifted his head to her left shoulder, no words are spoken but she can feel his breath on her neck and shivers in response. To back out now would be sabotaging her own life. Yor made a move to his scar, gently placing her lips on the wound. Never in her life had she acted like this but her father was yelling in her mind, urging her to proceed quickly. She understood that aspect of her motivations, but something else was guiding her, her heart perhaps? 

His free hand snaked around her waist, gripping the dip in her back from behind. The hand previously caressing her cheek had gone stiff, maybe the kiss was too much? Yor is on the verge of tears, regret flooding her senses. It must have been too much because she can feel him receding from her body. God she’s such a fool. 

Loid’s second hand remains firmly planted on her back, but the one caressing her cheek falls limp at his side. His chin lifted from her neck and his eyes were back to their original scrutinizing look. Eyebrows furrowed and mouth closed, he looked right into her soul. Yor couldn’t take it, his entire being is terrifying once more and her eyes find comfort looking at his shoes. Heart racing and skin on fire it’s all she can do to save her dignity by remaining quiet. Loid probably doesn’t like overly assertive women anyways. 

The final string is cut when his hand retreats from her waistline. It was the only thread preventing the tears from spilling over, and now all is lost. Small dots of sorrow drip down her bodice, they only cease when she buries her face in her hands. Yor wants to run and hide, but her husband is right there, probably ready to insult her the second she makes a move. Loid begins to turn once more, obviously preparing to leave the room and her behind. 

“Come with me.” The air is heavy, only cut by his singular statement. 

There is no proper response Yor can think of for his words. “P-pardon?” her voice is hoarse from crying. 

“I said come with me.”

Yor’s stutter is persistent, “W-where?” 

“My fief.” His answers are curt, befitting his personality.

“Won’t you need my father’s permission?”

There’s only a second of pause before he finally looks back at her. Her hands are taken on his own, and for a moment he looks just as he had when he recited his vows that fateful evening. 

“You are my wife is that not enough?”