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fic: The Jewel Of Our House

Title: The Jewel Of Our House
Fandom: All's Well That Ends Well
Length: 400
Rating: PG
Content notes: no warnings apply; period typical attitudes to women, sex, class, marriage...
Characters: Bertram, mentions of others
Author note: written for the Ring challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks; title from All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV Scene ii.
Summary: Bertram doesn’t stop to consider how he will account for the loss of his ancestral ring.

Bertram doesn’t stop to consider how he will account for the loss of his ancestral ring. Until his wife is dead, he has sworn not to return to France. Who knows if his mother will even be alive, if that day ever comes? It may not; women’s lives are longer than men’s, if not cut short by childbearing, and there’s no danger of that with Helena. He made that plain in his farewell letter: When thou canst get the ring upon my finger which never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband: but in such a “then” I write a “never.”

Now he bargains that same ring away for a night with Diana, whose name suits her too well. Not for much longer, if he has his will. She promises to put another ring on his finger in the night. From most women, he would think this a piece of bawdy. He’s not altogether certain it isn’t one, as modest as she seems. If he were not so mad for her, that would blunt the edge of his desire, but he is past all such consideration. He must have this woman, cost him what it will. Nothing will cool this heat but consummation.

The ring Diana exchanges for his is rich beyond what one of her state can afford. Even in the dark, the weight of the gold and the size of the stone declare themselves. If she had not enjoined him to silence, he would have questioned her about it. In the light, its richness is still more of a puzzle, but now the last thing he wants is further speech with her. His only desire is that this business be ended.

If the news of Helena’s death had come sooner, Diana might have demanded marriage as the price of her bed. It’s bad enough that he has lost the ring, but it could have been worse. Parolles was right: a young man married is a man that’s marred. Well, he is free again now.

He’ll invent some story for his mother of how he lost the ring. The chances of war will furnish an excuse, and if she does not believe him, what of it? The ring is gone, as Helena is gone. Not all a mother’s reproaches will bring either of them back.

Also posted at https://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/240353.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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