Jenny: Calpurnia's Dream

There was a cold draught in the dark, and she opened her eyes, suddenly broad awake. A glimmer of light sprang up, took, and rose in the flower-shaped lamp. How cold and dark it was! It could not be near dawn yet. The dark and the cold crept inside her as he bent down toward her. Seeing that she was awake, she could hear the sad little smile in his voice as he spoke. "I have to go now, dear."

"But it so early," she protested.

"Yes, and I must go before the sun comes up. I must be on the road."

She reached up through the mellow gloom and put her hands in his dark hair. She began to feel as though she were a boat with its moorings cut, whirling adrift. Don't go! don't go! she wanted to beg him. Caesar did not listen! My Caesar, you must listen! But all that came out was, "It is not fair. The Guttersnipe always has Jason with her, and you are always having to go."

"Shh..." He sat on the edge of the bed, cupping her face in his hands. She could feel the hard callouses, the rein-torn skin, and it was better than anything she knew. "Don't be like this. You are tired and worried. You know I must go; I have so many things required of me: that is why you love me." She could just see his smile by the light of the lamp. "My uncle and I will be back in the autumn. The Guttersnipe is here."

"But I want you..." she murmured.

He gave her a kiss and rose. Looking up at him, the light falling full on him, she had one moment of happiness just to see him, though his face was a little in shadow. Then he drew in a sudden hissing breath of pain and looked down: the inside of his thigh was blooming with blood. He gripped it, the blood spilling over his hands, sinking to one knee.


Gwenhywfar sat up, broad awake, heart hammering in her chest. It was morning, the light streaming in through the cracks in her shutters. She whirled out of the blankets, startling the cat, and ran to the shutters, throwing them wide open. The morning light burst into her face, but the dead thing still weighed in her chest. Trembling, almost too frightened to sob, she sank down onto her knees, fists clenched to her lips.

"Oh God, oh sovereign God, have mercy on me..."


"Artos!" Caleb was looking at him, smiling. "Your ears are red. Who is talking about you?"

He laughed back, shaking his head. But his ears were red, faintly burning, and his leg was hurting more than it had been. Uneasy, he withdrew into himself, hoping to catch Gaius before they divided for their tasks.

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