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Out of Step

part 2 of Threshold

The marriage was something of an arrangement; mutually, they came to it late. The first night equally proved a collaborative effort, ponderous manipulation of limbs and, lost in moans, the startling discovery of a matching sensuality.

Yet, not so startling, for Cid considered intellect would always be the more difficult match for a man of his caliber. Politically minded, she put in a diligent effort; he showed his appreciation of her attempts in treating her arguments as though worthy of debate.

On her arrest, shortly after the birth of their third child, Cid felt, for a moment, misgiving. He argued with her because he loved her, otherwise surely he wouldn't have bothered, and love clearly implied some form of understanding. But this! He did not understand at all! The trial, public and humiliating, was the first time he discovered she'd been raising a people's army, an illegal rabble-rousing gathering in the depths of Old Archades. Something to do with conditions of exploitation of children for labour, both hume and otherwise, in Old Archadian ghettos.

Cid's lawyers ensured he was safely and entirely shocked. Personally, he raged. His stability, his advancement, was entirely dependent on Archades' stability. What had she been thinking?

Cid sat through her trial, and could not bring himself to articulate emotion at her sentence. Exile. She would have to leave immediately. He thought momentarily of their sons, one on the front, one at the university, and the third, drowsing on a wetnurse's bib.

She was brought before him in shackles.

'Well, old man, are you getting on board my ship?'

A moment. He could not speak. One kiss between them, instigated by her yet returned with the ferocity of his own desire, vivid enough to astound him. She was leaving him, this, his wife, who dared look more magnificent in departure than she had ever seemed in her domestic setting. Cid relived days and nights of their foreign conjugation, the thick strength of her thighs against his own, the dimple of her navel as distinct as a thumbprint, their children, their hair like hers but the growth like his.

In her way, she always knew more of him than he of her; her last words tracked his thoughts. By way of farewell, she left an impossible imprint: 'Take care of the children, Cidolphus.'

He would not count how many years it took him to answer his question, alone — how could she have thrown everything away on a dream for freedom for those children not even their own?

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