A/N: This story is about abuse. Please have caution before proceeding.

If you or someone you know is enduring abuse of any kind, there are resources that can help. Please take care of yourself and do not hesitate to take advantage of these resources. You deserve happiness.

This story is about my first DD character, Frerin Shadetree, a halfling cleric. Many thanks to my party - Saelira, Clemency, Lina, Max and Castille - and of course our wonderful DM-sama, who made it all possible.


Chapter 1

Perro closed the door of their new home behind him. "Thank the gods that's all over."

Speedwell's heart was still pounding hard in her temples from the breathless dance that had swept them there. The pipes and drums were receding now, the songs of the village fading away. She felt beautiful and wide awake.

Perro crossed to her and took her in his strong arms, kissing her well. She felt small against his plank-hard chest and reveled in her new status of wife. They were one now.

He finally released her lips, but not her waist, and gazed into her eyes. "You're so beautiful, Speedwell."

She shivered at the warm breath against her face.

His arms tightened. "I've been good all day," he whispered. "May I have my prize now?"

A twist of fun seized her and she pinched him in the side, where she knew he was ticklish. He yelped and seized, and she squirmed away. "Only if you can catch me first, handsome!" she teased, backing up.

He stared for a moment, and then a devilish grin spread across his face. "You don't want to play games with me, woman."

Her back bumped against a chair, still yellow and sawdust-furry from the carpenter's workshop. She stopped and struck a pose. "Try me."

Perro lunged. She dodged, but not far enough. His large hands wrapped around her from behind and she squealed.

"Got you," he grunted, and heaved her over his shoulder. She shrieked and kicked, but had subsided to laughter by the time he carried her into the other room and threw her onto the bed.

Crawling in beside her, he wrapped her up again and breathed deeply into her hair.

"You're mine now," he whispered as his fingers began working their way down the line of buttons on her back. She pressed into him and kissed his neck. He growled. "I'm never letting you go. You're mine."


The Stonebridge depot had no corners and was arranged hub-style, with twelve doors equally spaced around the circular wall. The paths that entered by each were supposed to remain discrete, like the spokes of a wheel, and meet in a round under the skylight at the center, but decades of near-constant activity had obliterated all edges and the depot floor, besides four wooden daises, was uniform grayish dust.

Speedwell sat on the edge of the east dais, swinging her legs, watching the activity. It was the busy season. Stonebridge was the best place to come, both for caravans looking for rest and resupply and for locals seeking to sell to them. That was why the Red Larch party had come, of course.

She kicked her heels into the side of the stage and felt the impact travel up, flaring as it reached her twisted right knee. Her left ached as well, but her right burned.

"What do you think?" Amamer approached, leaned against the side of the stage. His head did not clear the top. "Likely-looking lot, eh?"

Speedwell eyed the two caravans across the depot. One was just coming in; the other was about to leave. "Not the one on the right. They're heading out. But the one on the left, maybe." She pointed her chin in that direction.

Amamer squinted. "Well, damn. You're right. Look like they're in a hurry, too." He sighed. "Well, let's try anyway."

"There's no point. They won't buy from us; look at them. Their cloaks are patched, their animals skinny—look, you can see ribs. I'll bet they're foraging to save money."

Amamer huffed. "The things you see, Speedwell. You're a wise woman." He smiled up at her. There was a glint in his eye that she ignored. Amamer had always had a soft spot for her, but she'd made her choices.

She waved a dismissive hand and smiled faintly. "I'm not that wise." She kept her eyes on the party that had just arrived.

"Nonsense," said a voice that erected the hairs on the back of her neck momentarily. "You're the wisest woman in Red Larch."

Perro stepped to the edge of the block, sat down, put an arm around her. "After all," he continued, "you married me." He squeezed lightly, kissing her cheek.

She turned her head to smile at him. "I know. Luckiest woman in town, too," she said.

Perro kissed her lips. In the back of her mind, she wondered if he knew how Amamer felt, if her husband was kissing her in public on purpose.

He pulled away. His eyes were oddly pleased, and she knew.

"Well, if you're done making a scene," Amamer said gruffly, "can we get down to business, please?" His arms were folded and he was looking determinedly at the caravans.

"Of course," Perro said innocently. He hopped down from the block, landing in a puff of sand. He turned his face to Speedwell. "You coming?"

She blew him a kiss. "I'm fine here. Go make some money," she replied.

Perro pretended to catch the kiss and pocket it before turning to go with Amamer. It was little things like that that reassured her that she loved him.

She watched the now-departing rightmost caravan. What must it be like? she wondered. What must it be like to be able to go anywhere, do anything? What's it like to travel? Does it feel like freedom?

It didn't matter now, she knew, touching her belly. She'd had her doubts about her marriage, her place in Red Larch—of course she had. But now...

She would never leave now.

When he knows, things will be better, she thought. He'll love the baby. We'll be happy.

She knew they would.