Aithne had spent the day in the chapel, praying, thinking, even sleeping a little. It was cold, yes, but not terribly so. Aithne thought there might be some semblance of a hypocaust, or else the many candles were giving off more heat than usual. Or perhaps it was simply that focusing her mind on God made the cold seem less intimidating.
Cathair had brought her food once or twice, and when he did she felt for a moment like a homeless waif, hiding lest she be discovered and tossed out. But sitting and eating with him quickly took that feeling away. Aithne could not remember the last time the two of them had had a quiet meal together. It felt homey and comfortable, even on a cold bench in a sparsely-furnished church. In truth, they'd not spent all that much time together at all of late. They saw each other at mealtimes and in the evenings in the atrium, but even then one or the other would have some task that kept them from spending the amount of time they would've liked.
And so she cherished the meals. Right now, she knew, he was working on their house, ignoring the intermittent snow showers. She wanted to help him, but with the remnants of yesterday's chill still hanging about her, he would have none of it.
"Father-God, show us some way to have this house built quickly. I don't mean to complain, but my room is very cold, and, well, Cathair is very warm. I am wanting a warm fire and my husband, Lord. I'm trying to be patient, but it is getting colder..." She trailed off into silent, wordless prayer after that, begging God for a miracle.
Cathair was working on the house. He had begun, and he would finish. And he would finish as soon as possible. But an idea had come to him- one that he thought would make the house better, but would also mean almost double the work. "How am I ever going to finish this?"
He looked at what he had built so far, and was pleased to see it was coming along more quickly than he expected, even if it was slower than he'd hoped. Then he thought of the purse of coins sitting with his belongings. Coins he did not much need.
Setting his work aside, he made his way back to the barn, fetched the pouch, and walked towards the village. It wasn't long before he found a few of the boys, playing games along the roadside. He did not recognize the game, but there was a ball involved. Is there a boy's game that does not involve a ball or sticks? He hailed them as he came closer. Some of them were nearly old enough to be doing a man's share of work, but not quite. The kind of boys who wish they were. "Is it a good game you play?" A few of the boys nodded. Some gawked, the others tried not to gawk. Cathair knew they all knew who he was- the lone barbarian who was granted grace by Lord Ambrosius, even though his arrow killed one who was most likely a playfellow. Their parents had forgiven him. He hoped they had, as well.
"I came to offer a job to those who would take it." he said. "I cannot pay you in much that is immediately useful- no extra knives, for example. But I do have good gold coins to give, if you wish them."
One of the younger boys giggled, and Cathair wondered if he'd mispronounced something. He pulled a coin from the pouch and held it up. "One each for anyone who wants to help me build a house- such a house as this valley has not seen- and three for the one who does the most work. Good, solid work, mind. No rushing through to win the prize."
The boys considered his offer. They weren't the type to go chasing after shiny things, it seemed. At length, though, four of them agreed, though Cathair was sure the light in their eyes was that of competition- not a wish for the prize so much as the right to it. And perhaps a bit of adventure tossed in. After all, they were to build something that hadn't been seen here before, and that was something not lightly refused.
So Cathair returned to the building with four boys of about thirteen years of age in tow, and thought it a small price to pay for the help and companionship. For in truth, he found himself enjoying their company. It had been many years since he'd seen the world through young eyes- it was refreshing to listen to their tales of the adventures they would one day have, and the adventures they had already had in this very valley. And somewhere along the line, Aithne's words came back to him, "Right now it is a dream, a beautiful dream which, when we awake will turn out to be reality." and he saw himself many years from now, working side-by-side with his own sons. Someday it would be so, and because of these boys now, that someday would come sooner. He smiled and went back to listening to the stories of the valley as they worked.
- Lys: Banshee
- Jenny: Marigold
- Lys: A Miracle Granted
- Jenny: Broom In the Mist
- Lys: Sehnsucht
- Jenny: Changing Lead
- Lys: Offense
- Jenny: The Comic In White
- Lys: Difficulties
- Jenny: The Little Wooden Horse
- Lys: Seek And Ye Shall Find
- Jenny: The Man in the Land of Summer
- Lys: A Scrap In Her Teeth
- Jenny: Masks
- Lys: The Word Of The Lord
- ▼ February (15)