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Time was precious. We found ourselves snuggled against each other, stealing time, sneaking in moments of love-making. The waiting was wearying.

One night I would spend with Lisbet, the other with Vanyel. Sometimes there was no small talk, only the touch of skin against skin, mouth seeking mouth hungrily, furious thrusting of hips. Love-making was comfort and relief, the intense joy of connection with a flesh-and-blood person and the anticipation of release.

When we were done, I would sit, polishing my sword and my armor with my oiling cloth. I cleaned the design on the plate: a stylized rose, etched into the metal. It would be soon.

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