Lys: Before I Wake

They were scrubbing things down when the last shreds of the night burned away. The sun blazed in, bright, cheerful, unknowing and uncaring about what went on while it had slept.

Aithne arched her back and stretched, cat-like, in one of the shafts of light. She suddenly felt just how exhausted she was. Mustn't think about sleep. There's still more to be done. Besides, it's day. You can't sleep now.

So she bent over her task, scrubbing the table with hot, soapy water, ridding it of the memory of last night, making it ready for its proper use again. She scrubbed hard, getting into a rhythm.

But as she worked, the rhythm slowed... she bent closer and closer to put strength in her work...

Seconds before striking her head on the table, she felt herself jerked up suddenly. Now wide awake, she looked up to see Cathair, his expression concerned and slightly indignant.

"What happened?" she asked, a little dazed.

"You were asleep in your work, that's what happened. Two more seconds and you would be on this table, getting sewn up." Once certain she could stand without toppling, he let her go.

"Oh..." she said, a little flustered. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so-"

"What have you to be sorry for?" he all but thundered. She shrank at that, as though afraid he'd strike her. Cathair was taken aback. Aithne? Shrinking? He'd never known her to do anything but thrust her chin at him and snap right back. His heart went out to her, and he calmed his tone. "You have nothing to be sorry for, muirnait." He could see exhaustion in every muscle, etched across her face, and he took her hands and led her to a corner cot- miraculously clean and unneeded. He ignored her protestations and pushed her gently down into it, shushing as he did. "Sleep, love. I'll see you when you wake."

She half-heartedly lifted a hand in protest. "But.. I need... to..." But with her head on the folded blankets, her body rebelled against her mind and she was asleep before she could finish the thought.

Cathair smiled, kissed her on the forehead, then rose and walked outside. There was work of his own to be done.

It was a while before he managed to find someone to ask. Speaking Latin with effort, he addressed a man at the well. "You there- can you tell me where they're keeping the prisoners?"

No comments:

Post a Comment