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Nobody noticed him, standing at the edge of the great hall. Nobody saw his knuckles tighten around the mug of wine in his hand, gripping it so hard that they turned white. Nobody saw him throw it back in one gulp and reach for more, and more, and more.

All eyes were on the young woman at the centre of the room. She shone with an innocent beauty, an untainted, untarnished purity that she carried so lightly you might think she was completely unaware of her charms.

All eyes were on the king who watched her. The king who greeted her, looked into her eyes, and leaned over to whisper something to her.

The young man at the edge of the hall watched his wife, as all others did. He did not know what the king had said to her, but he knew what it meant.

He reached for more wine.

© Kari Fay