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This is from a WIP, with the placeholder name of “Bluebeard,” very loosely based on that fairy tale. Every year on the Winter Solstice, a sorcerer takes a sixteen-year-old girl as his bride, divorcing her and exiling her before he takes a new bride the next year.
Summary: The sorcerer Aamir “Mire” has married the narrator, Gwyn, spelled them into his tower, and she’s not adjusting so well to being cooped up, so he’s teaching her some exercises to burn off energy.
He walked me through a series of stretches, some of which strained muscles as I held them while he counted far too slow. Thankfully, he fell into a lecturing tone as he progressed through the steps, the words worn smooth with repetition.
At the end of his instructions, I lay flat on my back, feeling empty and peaceful. The rug insulated me enough from the cold stone floor until I settled more firmly into my skin, and became aware of a creeping chill, and a fold of fabric digging into my hip. When I rose up on an elbow to ask him if these exercises had a name, I saw that he’d slipped out of the room, leaving the door standing open.
With a shrug, I flattened back to the floor. The moment stretched too smooth and simple to be angry at my insufferable and confounding husband.
After some more time had slipped away in a half drowse, I stood, put away the mat, and left the room, closing the door behind me.
* * *
This story is very loosely based on Bluebeard. The sorcerer is cursed, and the brides are caught up in the curse, though the nearby villagers don’t know how or why. He keeps the kingdom safe with his magic, and his brides tie him to a land he couldn’t otherwise protect. There are other ways to do this tying–but his curse demands a bride.