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Under Skies

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Bard meets his wife first when he's out fishing and she's swimming, a golden head dipping below sun-warmed water and coming up for air. The waves of her hair cling to her face, but there are laughing eyes there, so unlike Laketown's solemn people. She's the daughter of woodsmen traders from the Vales of the Anduin, and he teases something about rare fish before she dives and tips his boat so suddenly that he hasn't got time to hold his breath.

Her name is Svana, and she steals his breath more properly when he surfaces, floating under the summer sky.

*

She's got an aptitude for water, her name's given well - the grace of swans, but not their temperament. Bard builds her a house on the water, and each morning there are swans there as she dangles her legs out of the boathouse door, combs her hair and sings. They follow her barge, too, when she works, and that's the main fascination she brings: Soon, everyone knows her name and knows her as Bard's wife second, and even as their children are born, he'd not have it another way.

She's at his side throughout the Battle of Dale, under winter skies.

*

There are Swans in all the waters of Dale while she sits the throne. Bard struggles to find his place in the hall of his ancestors, reclamation though it is, but that's his quality - he's not there out of lust for power - Svana knows. Her hand, even as it softens and wrinkles, and her hair bleaches from gold into swan-wing-white, is always on his, her counsel often better, as though been born for queenship.

But sometimes there are summer days when neither king nor queen are found: Floating on the lake under the summer sky, Svana steals his breath again.