Chapter 2 in my answer to the “guy has umpteen wives” trope
Find Chapter 1 here.
Lady Taisiya’s estate sat between Sefton’s parents’ estate and the sea. This put it in a prime spot – a bargaining position his mother and her husbands had spoken of when they thought younger ears weren’t listening. It was shorter and squatter than the place Sefton had called home. Sefton looked over the whitewashed walls and the way it seemed to stretch out over the sandy grass. It was different, but it might be lovely.
Sefton had only a moment to look at it before his Lady — his new wife, his new minder, until he or she died — was steering him towards the front door. “You know what you must do?” she murmured, softly enough that no-one else could possibly overhear.
He was grateful for that. The next part, he had been told by all of his mother’s husbands, was hard. It was harder, he’d been told, the younger you were, and the more junior you were. Sefton could not imagine it being more difficult than the terror he felt right now. Still, if Lady Taisiya had needed to force him or even guide him through the motions, he might not have born to look at his co-husbands.
“I know, my lady.” He pitched his voice as softly as she had. Then they were at the threshold and there was no time for more words.
She stripped off his wedding robes — made easy to remove for just this purpose — and gave him a gentle push towards the door. Sefton swallowed and dropped to his knees.
“Keep your head down.” his father had told him; ““Keep your back straight. And keep moving until you are told to stop.”
It was easy to have heard. It was a lot harder to crawl, one hand in front of the other, one knee in front of the other, naked, across the stone tile that made up Lady Taisiya’s entryway. It was harder when he could see the feet, one bare pair after another, the first one with the chains no more than decorative shackles not linked together.
Lady Taisiya had paced him, even with pausing to take off her own boots and wash her feet by the door. Now she took her place to the left of her first husband. “Into our home you come, Feltian, now of Stonewall.” Three more voices joined hers, deep and resonant. “Part of our home you become.”
He bent his head over her feet. Now it was required that he speak. His throat was dry and felt tight and clogged. “Into your house I come. Part of Stonewall I become.” He put his lips to her feet.
She rested her hand on his head. “Junior you come in, as each new husband joins us. Will you obey, Feltian-Husband?”
“I will obey.”
He moved through the ritual, crawling down the line to each husband in turn. When he reached Lady Taisiya’s third husband, he was startled to see that his shackles were still linked with chain.
Sefton swallowed. Lady Taisiya had last married more than three years ago. He fought his way through the lines, noticing with some panic how amused this man sounded when he asked if Sefton would obey.
He had no choice, not really. He couldn’t go back. He couldn’t fight back. Men who fought back… well, bad things happened. He’d heard stories, although none of his mother’s husbands had ever fought.
“I will obey,” he agreed, and touched his forehead to the floor.
“Onter, take Feltian to his room. Welcome him to the family and prepare him for me.”
“Yes, Wife Taisiya.” His voice was deep, and it had the stilted sound of people who only speak formally in the middle of ceremonies. Sefton held still. He hadn’t been told to move yet.
“Come, Feltian. We will prepare you.”
That was the end of the ceremonial words. After this, all Sefton knew is that he was to follow Onter. He swallowed and hurried along on all fours after his new brother-husbands.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1139741.html. You can comment here or there.