Clipped Wings

By Oniko

Disclaimer: Odin Sphere is created and owned by Vanillaware, Atlus, and Square Enix.

AN: This story takes place immediately after Gwendolyn is awakened from her enchanted sleep by Oswald and presumes that he stays with her that first night.

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Gwendolyn stared at her sleeping husband. They lay on their marriage bed, Oswald on his back and she beside him on her stomach. The sheets were twisted into knots at the foot of the bed and currently the only thing saving his modesty was one of her wings half un-furled over his hips. Even in his sleep one hand gently stroked the soft black feathers sending shivers up her back at the intimate touch. No one had touched her wings since she was a child when her mother would groom ruffled feathers into place with long, skillful fingers.

He looked peaceful as he slept, free for once from whatever it was that haunted him so in his waking hours. She, on the other hand, was unable to sleep tormented by a spinning kaleidoscope of emotions. She was angry, at her father for giving her away like some pretty little bauble. At herself for not being good enough; if she was better, a better warrior, a better daughter, then her father would never have entertained Oswald's request for her hand in marriage. At Oswald for putting her in this position to begin with. Apparently while the spell made her love him, it didn't stop her from hating him. It was nice to know that something was hers alone, but it had its own way for punishing her for her dark thoughts. She felt guilty.

She had thought it would be enough to put her armor aside and lay with him as any human wife would, but in her heart of hearts she knew it wasn't. She knew that she was shirking her duty and it stung because she wasn't just tricking a foolish human she was disappointing her father once again. It was inevitable that Odin would give her to some warrior who had won his favor on the battlefield, she just wasn't expecting it so soon and certainly not to some fae human that she had once crossed psyphers with. But what was done was done, and she knew that she was in the wrong even if her new husband did not.

She sighed deeply as she realized that she had talked herself out of her earlier resolve; but she couldn't turn back, not without knowing herself for a coward. She gently drew her wing out of Oswald's grasp and eased herself out of bed. Gwendolyn padded across the stone floor on silent feet; only the slight flick of her wings gave any indication of her internal turmoil as she opened the wardrobe. It was filled with dresses in blue and black that complimented her fair coloring so well, though her mother's was still her favorite. The full bell-like skirts that weighed down and hid her wings when she wore them now hid something else equally important, her armor and her psypher. And there under the heel of her boot was the cause of her anguish; the shears. A valkyrie once married turned her back from battle and the open skies. The clipping of the long primaries was more then just symbolic; the heavy weight of the dresses dragged the wings to the ground and clipping of the long primary feathers kept them from wearing thin by the scraping along stone floors. Even the little she had been wearing her mother's dress had already caused her wingtips to grow dirty and dull.

The shears were exquisitely made by dwarven smiths of silver-chased steel. The razor sharp blades would slice through the vanes of her primaries as easily as Oswald himself had once cut through her troops. She had found them immediately upon awakening from her enchanted sleep and hid them in the back of the wardrobe. Just looking at them made her sick to her stomach remembering the stories she had heard from former shield maidens. There were tales of husbands who cut the feathers to the quick so that blood speckled the sheets, and worse some who used the shears to maim the wings themselves so that even the hope of flight was lost. Gwendolyn shuddered as she picked up the shears and hoped that Oswald, flightless as he was, was not one of the latter.

"Gwendolyn?" Oswald's soft voice called out from behind her. Startled, she spun around clutching the shears to her chest. "Were did you…? What is that?" He asked, his eyes falling almost immediately on the shears.

"I…" she looked down as the sharp blades that glinted wickedly in the moonlight and steeled her resolve. She was going to do this properly. She walked forward to kneel before him on the bed, her wings quivered nervously. She presented the shears to Oswald, the blades lying across her open palms. His eyes shadowed in confusion he reached out one hand to rest on the shears, calloused fingers brushing lightly against her own battle scarred hands. "My husband," she intoned formally, hating the ritual words. "I submit myself to you; your strength to guide me, your shield to protect me. All that I am is yours."

"Gwendolyn, do you…" his other hand reached out to cup her cheek and tip her head back. One look into her clear fearful eyes answered his question. "No, you don't truly love me, though I lost my heart to you long ago," he spoke softly, almost to himself. Not knowing how to respond she said nothing, fortunately the silence did not stretch too long between them. "What is this?" he asked, dragging one finger along the silver chasing on one of the blades.

She felt her heart freeze in chest, he really didn't know. Not only was she forced to undergo this indignity but she was going to have to explain to the human what he was supposed to do. "These are for the… the ceremony, to formally mark me as a married woman among my people."

His eyes grew wide as she explained about the clipped wings in a detached voice, trying not to think about never being able to glide through the air again. Oswald's hand closed over the shears, his grip so tight his knuckles turned white under the pressure. She wondered what ill that boded when he turned and threw the shears with all of his not inconsiderable strength, out the window.

She stared, gaping in shock, as they sailed over the balcony and with one last silvery flash disappeared from sight. "You… stupid… human!" she raged, unable to come up with any insult appropriate enough to convey her anger and frustration. Here she had tried. Tried to be a dutiful daughter, warrior and wife, and he just… tossed her efforts out the window!

"Gwen…Gwendolyn!" He shouted at her, but she didn't hear. With a wordless roar she struck out at him, her fingers curled into claws. He caught her with disgusting ease and held her wrists to his bare chest with one hand. The other slid under her wings and swept her against him.

She lay against him breathing hard; her strong legs straddling his narrow hips reminded her uncomfortably of earlier that evening when they consummated their marriage. As a husband he had been nothing like the whispered stories valkyries would tell each other. He didn't pin her to ground with his body like they said men liked to do, tying their wives to the earth in everyway possible. Oswald was different; he had pulled her atop his thighs with gentle touches and insistent kisses. It was almost like flying in its own way with her wings stretched out for balance and her pale skin flushed with exertion. Gradually, with her ear pressed to his chest she became aware that Oswald was speaking to her, his voice rumbling softly in the dark room.

"…thought you were the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen, But then I saw you on the battlefield, and I realized then that no, that was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. So fierce and strong, and yet concerned with the warriors under your command and grieving for the fallen. I saw that and I knew then… I would do anything to have you at my side. I love you, Gwendolyn. I have loved you from the moment I first laid eyes on you, and I would sooner cut my own heart out then to clip your wings." he sighed softly and released her wrists to gently wipe the tears that etched their tracks across her cheeks. "Any fool can see what being a warrior means to you. I realize that you don't love me as I would wish you to, but I promise that I will never knowingly do anything to harm you."

"But…" she protested, not entirely sure what she was protesting. He silenced her with a gentle kiss. Her heart fluttered, once again torn with conflicting emotions. She didn't truly love him, she knew; it was the spell that commanded her heart. But maybe, she thought wistfully relaxing into the deepening kiss. Maybe that would be enough.