Lys: Precious Things

Cathair managed his beard well enough. He dried his face, cleaned his tools, and returned them to where he found them. Exhaustion caught up with him then, and his lack of activity left him with no defenses against it. There was something he was forgetting...

Then he remembered- his pack, shot through with arrows. He retrieved it from where it had been put under a table, then sat down at the end of Aithne's cot and began gently unwrapping it.
He winced when he saw the shafts sticking out of the hard wood. Such a precious thing, and it had come so far, seen so much- it had seen much before it had even come into his possession.

Holding tightly, close to the penetration point, he snapped the end of the arrow off so as to be able to examine it more closely. It would take some doing to remove it without causing more harm.
He left it there for the time being, and moved on to the other one. This was the one that managed to catch him. It was lodged in a crook of the wood, slowed down by friction rather than penetration. He drew his dagger and carefully probed around until finally it popped free. He grimaced when he saw the cuts his dagger had made, but they were impossible to avoid. The arrow had to come loose.

He wondered about the first one. Would it be better to simply leave it and cut it down to the entry point? Or should he pry it out and hope to avoid causing more damage in the process? It was a question for which he had no answer. He would have to ask Aithne when she woke. She knew better than he did about such things.

He looked over at her, sleeping peacefully, and he saw a bit of the Aithne he once knew- strong-willed, happy, carefree... What changed you so? What had happened to her in the past ten years to break one like her? The image of her batting aside a drawn dagger returned to him, and he smiled. Not quite broken. But for her to shrink from a simple raised voice, to skitter like a mistreated dog... that was not Aithne. She must have endured much- much that would've been the end of other women. He wondered, and then wondered if he'd rather not know.

Somehow she'd managed not to age, either. She was worn, yes. Tired-looking and thin, but she still looked like the woman he lost so long past. He wished he could take her in his arms and carry her home. But there was nothing for either of them there. Not anymore.
Setting his work aside, he covered it once more in its cloth, then moved to the head of the cot. So fragile... He reached out to stroke her cheek, then drew back when she stirred. Waiting a moment to be certain she was still asleep, he laid down next to the cot, dagger in hand, and tried to get a little sleep of his own.

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