tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Warrior's Lover

The Warrior's Lover


Author's note: I have used Danish words and names in this story. Søren is pronounced "Sir-en", and Skjold is pronounced "Shold".


Night was falling over Fort Skjold. As she crossed the courtyard with her two bucketfuls of wood ash, Lina paused to look through the lowered portcullis at the rolling plains beyond. Weather in the north may have been pretty awful, but at least the landscape was something to look at.

If the sky was clear tonight, maybe she'd try and slip out onto the walls, watch the fields and the forests turn silver in the moonlight. The fort was built high on the hill; you could see for miles around if there was no fog. Lina had been living here for ten years, and no matter how many times she saw it, the view never became less beautiful.

There were not many places where the men would accept a woman as a blacksmith, but at Fort Skjold, Lina seemed to fit in perfectly. They were more respectful of women up here than they had been back at home; back there, all that had stood between the pig-headed entitlement of the village boys and Lina's virginity was a good sword-hand and a lot of luck.

Still, most of the men here were surprised when they first saw her. Having been told there was a female blacksmith at Skjold, they generally expected to see one of two things; a hulking, six-foot Amazon with biceps like war-hammers, or some sort of busty milkmaid type who pansied around the forge in a big frilly dress.

Lina was neither of those things. Her body was slim but sturdy, nicely toned by her years of swinging a hammer and running errands during her apprenticeship. Like everyone else in the workshop, she worked in breeches, a tunic, and a good leather apron to protect her from sparks. And like everyone else, she went back to her rooms at the end of the day covered in ash and soot.

She found it hard to understand what Søren saw in her. She had borrowed a mirror from one of the handmaids once, and, after a good scrub at her washstand, had examined her face in the flickering candlelight. She saw nothing special. Certainly none of the rosy-lipped, long-eyelashed beauty of the fine ladies or their maids; hers was an even-featured face, with a few isolated freckles and a shock of cropped brown hair.

Then again, it was always dark when Søren came. So perhaps it didn't matter.

She had come to Fort Skjold when she was fourteen, after securing an apprenticeship with the master blacksmith there. Søren was one of the first men she had met. A slim, stern-looking warrior, with a clean-shaven face and dark blonde hair that was beginning to turn grey, he had stopped Lina and her new apprentice-master at the outer gates, exchanging a few curt words with the older blacksmith before waving them both in. He hadn't even looked at her.

"That's the captain of the guard," her master had told her when they were out of earshot. "I'd stay out of his way if I were you. Man's got a temper on him."

Yet while she heard him shouting on a daily basis, Lina never seemed to be the target. For a long time he barely even spoke to her. One afternoon, however, while she was practising her sword-fighting moves in an isolated yard, she had looked up suddenly and seen him watching from a high window.

He didn't say anything to her, but on her next day off, there was a hammering at her door. "I'm in bed," Lina had called out. "Who is it?"

"Get up," came Søren's voice. "Swordfighting lesson."

Lina was still half-asleep, but even in her current state, she realised that this might be the only opportunity she would get to improve her skills. So she went. And that was how Lina came to spend her every free morning sparring with Søren in the same small courtyard.

He gave her just enough quarter to let her improve and learn, but he never went easy on her. More often than not, Lina would find herself flat on her back, with Søren barking at her to get up. As the months and the years went by, however, Lina found herself falling less and less often, and while she could not hope to match Søren's years of experience as a swordsman, her skills flourished at an alarming rate. Now, some ten years later, he could still beat her—but not as quickly.

After that first day, Søren was continually finding errands for her to do, or coming by the workshop to examine (and often criticise) Lina's handiwork. It took her six years to realise that his sharp commands and spurious visits were his way of getting closer to her; the only way, she suspected, he knew. That day, her technique was abysmal; noticing for the first time the smooth movements of the body beneath his armour, the silver sheen to his hair, she failed to pay attention to her footwork, and by the end of the lesson was bruised from so many falls.

"That was awful," Søren told her gruffly.

"I know," Lina replied.

"Next week, then," he said, after a pause, and stalked off.

He had his own rooms above the barracks; it was no challenge at all getting there without being seen. Surprisingly for a man of Søren's temperament, the door was unlocked. Lina wondered later if he had been expecting her. Quietly, she pushed the door open; heard the rustle of bedsheets and a sword being drawn.

"Who's there?"

"It's me," she breathed. She heard the sheets move again as he rose uncertainly to his feet. Lina stepped in, closing the door behind her. The room was dark, but she could just about make out where the bed was. Steeling herself, she shrugged out of her shift and let it fall to the floor, then stepped uncertainly toward him, preparing herself for rejection, perhaps even humiliation if he decided to turf her out without letting her get dressed again.

There was a tense and drawn-out silence. He was waiting, she realised, and the knowledge made her bold. She came to him, gripped his wrist, and placed it on her breast; as she pressed herself against him she found he was already hard for her. His lips graced her neck. The gesture sent a sting of renewed lust throughout her body, and before she knew it she was pulling him down onto the bed and on top of her, easing him into her, giving him what she had given no other man before him.

Though she was moist and ready for him, still there was some pain, but he moved with experienced tenderness and his hands were surprisingly gentle. Soon the pain was gone, and her own hands were pulling at his hips, urging him deeper.

"Trust me," he growled, breaking the silence, and wrapped his arms around her suddenly, pulling them both into a sitting position, she straddling him still. Lina realised with a jolt that he was supporting her weight fully. "Trust me," he said again, and trembling with desire, she lowered herself onto him, feeling his full length inside her, his breaths hot and fervent against her collarbone.

She felt a delicious pressure building within her, a pressure she recognised from her nights alone in her bed, but this time it came from somewhere deeper within her flesh, and she clapped her hand against her mouth to keep from crying out. His breaths quickened as she tensed and climaxed around him, pressing herself tight against him, their bodies impossibly hot, impossibly close. Søren held her as she came.

She rested against him for a moment, her heart thumping. Then she moved her hips again, her thighs slick with sweat. "Your turn," she breathed, and her voice seemed to send a shudder of arousal through him. He pushed her down onto her back, grinding his hips to hers; she felt a new urgency in the way his arms surrounded her, and clamped her legs around his waist, driving him deeper still. Moments before he came, he withdrew from her, his seed spilling over her thighs and stomach. She reached between them, caressed his member as it slowly lost its stiffness, the semen warm and slick against her hand.

There was an unspoken acknowledgement between them that she could not stay there. She slipped out from beneath him, picking up her shift from the floor, and left without a word. Still dizzy from her recent orgasm and the knowledge of what she had just done, she just about managed to make it back without arousing suspicion, but could not sleep the rest of that night for the memory of his body, his fading warmth on her skin.

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