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Lords of Swords

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linden_jay @ 04:02 pm: Harry, Karl and Marton. Defend yourself.
"Harry! Where are you going? Again?" Karl's eyes narrowed as he walked to the stables.

Harry froze, cursing mentally. "To see Rakl and my lady?"

"With your weapons?"

"Anything could happen between the house and the stables. It is best to be prepared."


Harry ducked, wincing.

Karl opened his mouth, than closed it. It was the same agreement they had been having for days, and Harry had not changed his mind yet. Than a slow smile appeared. "Sir Harry! Stand!" He quickly retrieved his sword and come back.

Harry frowned, standing up straight and watching Karl, not entirely sure what he was about to do.

"Defend yourself." Karl lunged at Harry, his sword high.

Anticipating Karl's move only just in time, his movements slower than usual from the weeks of inactivity, Harry blocked Karl's move, taking a defensive posture and circling him, slowly.

Karl continued to face him, darting in and out, trying to take his measure. His smile had not left his face, merely less apparent and somehow more aggravating

Harry, by contrast, was suddenly serious, silent for once, studying Karl's every move, always returning to his eyes every few seconds, keeping himself purely defensive, skillfully blocking every attempt by Karl.

Karl drew back a step, nodding to himself. Than something shifted in his eyes. He became more aggressive, pressing harder, but still his smile remained.

Harry caught the shift, still pacing himself, able to recognize from the very slight lack of speed, strength and the weight that he had lost that he could quickly be at a disadvantage if he did not.

Marton walked outside, watching the two men. He had to refrain himself from barking out orders, as if they were his boys sent to train with him. He frowned as he recognized that Harry needed to practice more to regain what his illness had taken from him.

Karl's smile grew a little more. He now alternated between pressing attacks and falling back. He had to make himself concentrate on the fight and not just take in the sight of Harry's movements.

Blocking a particularly hard hit, Harry gave Karl a good shove back, falling back and pacing a circle around him, swinging his sword arm, annoyed at the soreness in the muscles that the swords jarring together had caused. Realizing he could not outlast Karl, he let the pain show in his face instead of blocking it, letting his movements be deliberately slow as he raised his sword again, nodding to Karl that he was ready to continue.

For a second Karl faltered as he saw the strain show. His movements were slower as well. Than he intensified his attack, his eyes shifting again as he pressed harder.

He will show me no quarter, Harry thought wryly, secretly pleased that Karl was not pitying him or taking it too easy on him either. He continued to block Karl, the force behind each parry lessened, saving his energy to keep moving, waiting for his opportunity.

Karl kept up his attack, knowing Harry was up to something but still not sure what it was. His own movements stayed at a steady pace, seeking to keep Harry on the defensive;

Harry overcompensated for a high blow from Karl, staggering back and breaking pace, then suddenly lunging forward, pressing Karl back, attacking.

Karl fell back, adjusting to the new attack. On the defensive now, his smile grew even wider as he saw what Harry was doing.

Harry gave Karl no real time to pause, moving from strike to strike quickly, the look of tiredness and pain leaving his face as he focused in on his opponent, eyes always on Karl's.

Karl pressed his attack, giving and taking with Harry as they continued.

Marton watched Harry intently, knowing he would have to be the one to stop the fight if it grew too much fo him.

Harry alternated between attack and defense, refusing to allow Karl to see the exhaustion settling in, a tremor in his free hand the only visible sign, refusing to give in.

"Enough! Harry! Karl! STOP!" Marton moved forward, his hand raised.

Harry paused, 'though he didn't take in what Marton had said, taking a defensive posture and readying himself for his next strike.

Karl's smile grew again as he brought his sword up.

Marton quickly stepped between them. "ENOUGH!"

Harry instantly reversed his sword and stepped back, acknowledging Marton's command.

Karl growled, starting to push Marton out of the way to get to Harry.

Marton pushed Karl back, slapping his face hard. "KARL!"

Karl blinked. "Marton?"

Harry's eyes narrowed, seeing Karl and Marton squaring off, breathing hard, raising his sword again and holding perfectly still.

"I told you to stand down, Sir Karl!" Marton took a step closer.

Karl looked at Marton, than at Harry. He fell to his knees, his sword held in front of him and his head bowed.

Once again, Harry reversed his sword, sliding it into the sheath and kneeling before Karl, lifting his head up to look into his eyes again. "You would have beaten me. This time."

Karl smiled. "I will wait to beat you when you do not have the excuse of being ill to fall back on."

"Excuse!" Harry huffed, making as though to rise to his knees. "Come then- we finish this now!"

Marton laughed. "Enough, both of you. Come and eat. You may fight tomorrow."

"We will fight tomorrow," Harry insisted, just glad to finally be doing something other than getting caught trying to do things he wasn't allowed.

"That we will." Karl stood up, his hand held out to Harry.

Harry reached his hand up, biting back a grunt of pain as Karl helped him to his feet.

Karl kissed Harry, wrapping his arm around him. "Come on. We best go back before Marton takes us to task."

"Does this mean you two will stop treating me like an invalid?" Harry asked, leaning on Karl as little as he dared.

"Will you stop trying to leave without us seeing you?" Karl kept his eyes forward.

"If you fight with me."

Karl turned to him. "What did you see in my eyes?"

"You were alive. Completely. No reservations."

"Was it what you expected to see?"

"You held nothing back. It was a contrast."

Karl looked with surprise at Harry. "Do I hold back otherwise?"


Karl frowned. "I had not realized that I continued to with you.'

"It is less now. But yes, you do hold back. I would never have offered what I had about Steele-
upset you like that if I had known the consequences."

"I did not tell you. I had not thought I would need to." Karl let Harry enter the house first, sitting down at the table as Marton brought the food.

"One day he will come looking for us. We should be prepared. And one day, Corin will ride through the glade," he added, leaning back in his chair and sighing.

"Than we will deal with that the day it happens." Marton sat down, his hand on Harry's shoulder.

"Will sparring with me help? Do I fight like him?" Harry asked, unable to look up.

"Fight like who?"

"The Baron's son."

"I did not train Corin."

"No. But he is my blood," Harry almost spat.

"He may be your blood, but he is not your spirit. You are different. Remember that."

"I try to." Harry fell silent, focusing on his food.

Karl looked at Harry, than at Marton. "You are not the same, Harry. Trust us on this.'

"I dread it. That someday I will wake up and find I have become like them. I would rather die first."

"You have a heart. They do not. You will not be as them."

"That does not mean they will stop trying to make me be like them." Harry sighed, pushing his plate back, suddenly not hungry, sore from sparring with Karl.

Karl's face darkened and he looked down at his food, his knuckles white as he fought to control his anger and despair that grew each time Harry talked of going back to them.

"So- when will I be well enough for you to go back?" Harry asked, turning to Marton suddenly.

"You are healing nicely. One or two days more for that, than time to build back up your strength."

Harry nodded. "I will miss you. Karl- you will go with Marton, will you not?"

Karl looked at Harry, than quietly got up and left the house.

Marton watched him leave, than sighed. He pushed his food around his plate, his appetite gone as well.

Harry looked frustrated and upset with himself. "I always make him leave," he murmured, standing up and walking away from the table to the bedroom. "One of these days, he may not come back."

Marton followed him. "What are you giving him to come back for, Harry? Me? I trust in this case I am a poor substitute for you."

"What are you talking about- a poor substitute for me? You must reclaim your title and lands- officially. If I go back, they will find me. The only way for them not to find me is for me to
remain here." Harry turned to face Marton, his arms wrapped around his waist.

"That is not what he heard. He heard you miss me when you return to them."

"I meant I would miss you both when you return with Karl to reclaim your title!" Harry insisted.

Marton stepped forward. " 'That does not mean they will stop trying to make me be like them.' How can they keep trying if you are not with them?"

"And what am I supposed to do when they find me? When they order me back?"

"But I thought you said the only way for them not to find you is to stay here. So how are they to order you back?"

"That is this time- I do not expect them to find me yet."

"What is to say they will ever find you?

Harry looked down. "Marton. Sir. I am of their house. I owe them my allegiance. Honour to king, land, lord and family. It is what you taught me."

Marton fell into the chair. "Would that I had not." He placed his hand over his eyes.

Harry dropped to his knees, bowing his head in front of Marton. "Please- I am sorry. I cause you nothing but pain," he whispered.

"It is not you. It is them. It is all them. Never you, my Harry." Marton raised Harry's face to look at him.

Harry looked at Marton, his face anguished. "I am sorry, Sir- I do not wish to hurt you- or Karl. But that is all I do."

"Shhhh, none of that my Harry. You cannot be anything other than yourself. Honest and Loyal. It is nothing to be ashamed of." Marton kissed him.

"I do not want Karl thinking what he is- I never meant that," Harry insisted, moving closer and laying his head in Marton's lap.

"Karl has fears he must deal with. He knows this."

"I don't want to leave you. I have two people in the world who love me- I never thought I would have that." Harry held on tighter.

"And we will always love you. Never doubt that, my Harry." Marton leaned down, wrapping his arms around him.

"But I upset him- he walked out," Harry repeated, resting against Marton, so grateful that he could finally be held again without it hurting him.

"It is his love that makes him. He loves you and cannot bear any hint of a thought that he may lose you."

"Should we go look for him?"

"Yes, I think we should. Come on." Marton stood up, his arm around Harry's shoulders as they walked out.

Looking cowed, Harry stayed as close to Marton as he could as they walked.

Karl was in front of the house, between it and the stables. He had a small log from the fire on the ground and was placing a bucket of water next to it.

Harry frowned, looking at them. "Karl?"

Karl sat down, his dagger in his lap. He looked up expectantly at Harry

Harry looked at the dagger, his eyes narrowing, then opening wide. "What for?" he insisted.

Marton looked at Karl, than at Harry. "Is this..."

"To see."

"You will not remember- you told me that."

"I know."

"Then why? Can you do it for yourself?"

Karl shook his head. "That is not allowed."

"Then why? What are you wanting to see? You were waiting for us- you had to be."

"I want them to be seen. What they are doing."

"Seen by who- you will not remember."

"Will they not have reason to come after Marton? They are losing much."

Harry bit his lip, then nodded. "Have him do it."

Marton looked from one to the other. "What will this do?" He asked Harry.

"You will see a vision. It will drain Karl. He wants you to see what the Baron and his son are up to, I believe."

Karl looked up at them, waiting.

Marton sighed, than nodded. "What do we do?"

"You can do this outside? What of the sun?"

"It cannot be done instead a dwelling. And we have no tent."

"He must think of them, correct? Of the Baron and his son?"

Karl nodded. "This risk of the sunlight is that Steele may hear of it and wonder. He might take it to discover more about them."

"About them. Does it... how about us? Does it lead him to us?"

Karl shook his head. "No, nothing of us."

"But possibly them?"

Karl nodded.

"And if he found them..."

"I cannot say. He may leave them alone, seek to learn more, might even aid them if it amuses him."

"That is the only part which concerns me. That he might aid them."

"We can wait til night, but I wish it done."

"Is it worth the risk to do it now?"

Karl looked up at the sky. "It can wait."

"Good," Harry dropped to his knees in front of Karl. "I owe you an apology."

"For what?" Karl put the wood into the water to put out the fire.

"I meant that I would miss you and Marton when you journeyed to restore his title and left me behind so I would be safe. I did not mean it the other way."

Karl looked at him. "What if I thought you were safer with us? If there were some way to hide you from them?"

"I cannot hide from them forever," Harry whispered, his eyes darting up at Marton, wondering if he would explain, or if he would have to try and manage himself.

"Do you find me lacking for not understanding this loyalty of yours?"

"You were sworn to a lord, and you broke from it. My lord is my king and country, and beneath that, the Baron. My blood. I cannot hide from the second and serve the first."

"I broke from the lord because he was not worthy of my loyalty. He would have me and his other knights take blame for his mistakes, punished for them."

Harry lowered his face, ashamed at the parallel, but feeling trapped.

"That is how I met His Majesty. Somehow he had heard of our plight. He ordered the lord to court to answer for it, and the knights as well. The punishment meant for us was given to the lord. He was put to death and his possessions sold, the money shared amongst us to repay the betrayal."

"I am glad that you found justice. That you are free and choose whom you will serve. You are lucky there, Karl- even if other area's of your life are not yours to choose."

"Yes. The feud and loving you."

Harry paused, taken aback. "Would you change it?" he murmured.

"There is no way to change the feud. No hiding from it."

"And the other?"

Karl dropped his eyes. "There is no hiding from that as well."

"But would you if you could? Do you wish it hadn't happened?" he asked, his heart almost ceasing to beat.

Karl glanced away, than looked back at Harry. "What do my eyes say?"

Harry looked up, shaking a little, seeing deep within Karl's eyes, then choked back a sob, his eyes filling with tears. "You do not," he whispered, clearing his throat and forcing them back. "I love

Karl looked down, struggling to control himself. He reached for Harry, holding him tight.

"What did you see- when you were fighting me?" Harry whispered.

"I had to force my mind on the fight, not allow myself to be caught up in watching you."

"Watching me? Why would you be caught up in that?" Harry looked down again, shy.

Karl put his hand on Harry's face. "Because you are you."

"I love you. I love us- all three of us. I don't want to lose that," Harry whispered again, leaning into the touch.

"You never will. I swear it."

Harry tried to smile, his lips shaking. "Don't make promises you can't keep."

"I do not. " Karl stared straight into Harry's eyes.

Harry looked at him, then leaned in, kissing him fiercely.

Karl fell back, his arms tight around Harry to bring him down with him.

"Too long- been too long," Harry gasped, not wanting to break the kiss for more than a few words at a time. "Please- if I'm well enough to fight- please- need you both!"

Karl looked at Harry, than searched for Marton. "Marton! Where are you?"

"I am here, Karl." Marton moved to where he could be seen. "And we have proven that we can all fit on my bed."

Harry shivered at the though, a soft moan sounding, turning to look at Marton, a look of complete need in his eyes.

"Yes my Harry. You will have us both." Marton knelt down, kissing them both. "Come to bed."

Previous chapters archived here.

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