|A medieval garden, similar to that of my heroine.|
A silence. Awkward. “What do you want of me?” she said, finally.
The time had come. “Your husband served in my company.”
She glanced down at the floor. “I know.” Had her sadness returned? Would there be tears?
He hurried to speak. “Then you know that the siege was broken by that attack. That his death was not in vain.”
“That is a comfort, surely.”
Her tone suggested otherwise. “He was a worthy fighter. His death was a blow.”
Now her gaze met his again. Her shield had not slipped. “More so to me.”
Ah, then she blamed him for the man’s death. She had the right. “Men die in war, no matter what we do.” War was not what those at home imagined. It was not…glorious.
He pulled the stained, crumpled silk from his tunic. “Your husband was carrying this when he died. I thought to return it to you so you would know he treasured the thought of his wife.” He waved it in her direction. A poor, limp thing, even more wrinkled and dirty now than it had been when he took it from the man’s body.
She did not reach for it. Instead, she recoiled, as if it were a live thing with teeth.
He shook his outstretched hand, wishing to free himself of it. “Do you not want it back?”
“Back?” The word, barely a whisper. Then, she lifted that hard, impenetrable gaze and met his eyes again. “It was never mine.”