Jenny: To the Quick

He wondered if the man would dream about it.

"I know the place," Jason said quietly. "Come. I'll take you there."

His naturally peaceable disposition, he reasoned, was probably the only thing which kept the man from being punched in the nose. That, and the knowledge of how likely death might be, crushing the bone at such an angle, and the broken bone being crushed up into the tender tissue of the brain... What he hated most was how shaken the Guttersnipe had been. She probably did not even realize yet that the boy was dead. Sure, she had looked in his cold little face and sat by his silent side, but the empty hole he had left in their world was something she probably did not feel yet. And when she did - he did not want to think about that.

He took the Irish bull Cathair outside and down the slope toward the village. Where the little worn footpath diverged he stopped, pointing. "That house there, under the flaming beech-tree."


The Guttersnipe had not meant it the way Domitia had taken in, but she could not wholly blame the girl. She was wont to lash out blindly herself when she was upset. And this - this must be a horrible black hole of depression Domitia was headed for. Her father, dead. The Guttersnipe could not really imagine what a flesh-and-blood father was like or how one held them close to one's heart. She stroked Frip's head, wondering a little if it was like holding something soft and fluffy and warm, and big like the dog. And it hurt her a little to find that there was, as far as the world could see, a difference between a father and his child, and Ambrosius and herself. When she had given Master Lucius her name, it had never before sounded awkward in her ears. It was her name. And never before had she felt herself as anything other than Ambrosius', nor had he ever been anything but a father to her. Now she had to look at it the way the world did, and she wished for Calidus' face to punch in a few times because she hated it.

She began to feel a little sorry for herself. She knew it was selfish of her, and in a sort of defiance against Calidus, against the world, against her own lack of a blood-father, she turned to look at Domitia and did what she had never done before, though she had seen it done enough. She looked...and she looked...and she looked. She looked and silently begged it was a thing not blood-related, that it was a thing she herself could do to prove she was Ambrosius' and Artos'; and presently, as she looked, she saw a thing. She could never afterwards describe what she saw - it was more of a feeling than anything else. It had about it the hardness and the heat of a dragon, cruelly and recklessly sharp; yet she saw - felt - on the underside a curious and telltale softness. Then, like the hammer's blow that drives the nail home to the criminal, she saw the red and white and heard a frantic cry of agony.

Slowly she let the silver thread go and saw Domitia's face.

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