Jenny: A White Hope

From his window Artos could see the work going on on the Long Barn roof and Gaius' progress with the boys by the pasture wall. A part of him longed to be out there, even with Jason and the Guttersnipe at their gentle ramble, another part of him seemed very still and calmly detached from the world. All morning his heart had been beating hard in his chest, well knowing the hopelessness of the half-finished letter shimmering black before him. But his mind and the thing in his chest seemed two bodies apart. He sat at his battered desk staring out on the worn lawn, on the Long Barn and slope of pasture, caught in no place in particular.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.

He let out a heavy breath, feeling as though he had left off breathing for several minutes without realizing it, and he looked down at the letter under his hands. He stared at it a moment, then got to his feet so swiftly that the ink-pot rattled ominously; his hand dragged a smear on the vellum as he spun away and lurched awkwardly across the room, pulling his lame leg with him.

He stumbled into his uncle's room at the dog-leg of the hall. The light was turning steely-grey, falling through the lattice in a pale wash. Everything was tidy and quiet. He stood a moment in the doorway, feeling a little more closely the thing that was hammering in his chest. A wave of relief hit him when he saw what he was looking for perched on its silver ring over his uncle's couch, pale and white, flecked in black. He rolled toward it on one good foot.

Champion pulled his head up and looked round with one harsh golden eye. Artos. You will do some mischief to your leg.

"Never mind that," Artos said bluntly. "I need you. There is no time, and you are the only one who has sight enough to see beyond the hill this time."

The bird regarded him passively for a moment, very still as though carved of stone, and the thing in his chest was hammering audibly in his ears. So, he said finally. Open the lattice, Merlin.

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