abira faye

(abira & leah)

Leah: Aunt Abira! *squeals and hugs her, and then pauses* …don’t tell me it’s not lady like to squeal, I know.
Abira: *chuckles once, hugging her back* And when I was your age I did a lot less ladylike things than squeal.
Leah: *slow grin* Well–
Abira: *holds her hand up* No, I don’t want to know.
Leah: *chuckles* …right, sorry Aunt Abira.
Abira: *a bit softer* How is he, anyways?
Leah: *confusedly* How is who?
Abira: *arches an eyebrow*
Leah: ……….you know everything.
Abira: I’ve heard that.
Leah: It’s really aggravating.
Abira: I’ve heard that too.
Leah: I mean really, truly–
Abira: *chuckling* So he’s that well, is he?
Leah: Very well, yes. *head shaking trying not to be amused* Whomever you’re talking about.
Abira: Mmm.
Leah: *asks a little quieter* How did you handle it?
Abira: How did I handle–
Leah: I know, that my mother won’t make me marry anyone I do not wish to. But at my age, everyone is staring at me…I am surrounded by sharks.
Abira: Ah. *quieter* Well, I suppose I handled it by knowing it what was right for me.
Leah: I suppose that makes sense. *quieter* And I also realize that she still believes I will get married and–
Abira: …is it a fault that she should want you to fall in love?
Leah: Well no, but–
Abira: And as for all your suitors, surely there is one…
Leah: *frustrated exhale* Meaning Willas?
Abira: *admits* I had heard a rumor.
Leah: Again, I rather wish you knew less.
Abira: *brow wiggle, but says seriously* What did you answer?
Leah: What did I answer? You mean to his generic statement of wonderment when I expressed surprise that he assumed I should be telling him my deepest thoughts as he presumed I realized he was hoping I would consider marriage?
Abira: …rather convuluted.
Leah: A bit, yes. And I said I had no considered it and would not, which I think does count as an answer. To his entirely unasked question.
Abira: You know he will not give up, of course.
Leah: *frustrated groan* Yes, well, I could always take my sword and just-
Abira: Leah.
Leah: *exhales and rubs her forehead and then says in a different tone* Why did you ask about him?
Abira: *quieter* Because I thought you might want to know that soon–soon here having the meaning of a few hours–he will not…officially have to hide.
Leah: Hide what? *brow arches, hand on her hip*
Abira: *tiny smile*
Leah: ….you. know. everything.
Abira: Oh this I only guessed this afternoon–if I had not heard the strangest tale from two children on my way here–
Leah: *grumbles*Isaidtobecareful-
Abira: And even then I would never have known except, I mean, it makes sense actually, considering his family and a few other scattered incidents and your sudden defensive attitude about them–
Leah: Why won’t it be a secret any longer?
Abira: Well…it can still be if he chooses–
Leah: Abira.
Abira: *hands her Damocles proclamation*
Leah: *spends at least a minute reading–almost seeming to savor every word, her mouth hanging open and then she looks up in surprise, saying very slowly* …this is…
Abira: I know. *with the tiny smile*
Leah: But he’s saying–
Abira: Yes. *now wider smile*
Leah: He’s…but how
Abira: There’s a bill, I authored it anonymously and gave it to another committee because–well, let’s put it this way, it stands to reason that this is going to be unpopular by…
Leah: …many.
Abira: And as such, it is helpful to give myself political cover while–
Leah: While Uncle Damocles stands up and proclaims that centuries of law are about to be undone because it was all bloody bullshit to begin with.
Abira: Leah.
Leah: *arches eyebrow*
Abira: *chuckles in spite of herself* …Yes, that rather summarizes it.
Leah: *is perusing the document wide-eyed, starting to beam* The study it refers to–when was it commissioned? How was it commissioned?
Abira: *with a tiny grin* Well if, by commissioned you mean…when did I start secretly tracking down and convincing to trust us, while Damocles covered me and Maeve wrote it?
Leah: The three of you did this?! *going round-eyed and looks up again*
Abira: *nods, and then admits quietly* We weren’t the ones taking the risk, every one we uncovered…they were the ones in danger.
Leah: *nods softly* Of course. How long have you…
Abira: Nearly twenty years ago. *exhales* It…took a long time to complete and then, I had to make sure we had the votes…
Leah: Twenty years? *lowers the proclamation, holding on to it tightly and then she says softly* …oh of course.
Abira: *the tiniest smile* …yes.
Leah: *rubs her forehead* Rowland’s…
Abira: *presses her lips together and nods just once, gesturing they should sit down and says softly* Has Mitchell…
Leah: …told me it was true? *smile flicks* I suspected as much regardless. *softer* I remember Rowland as well. *falters a moment and then says quietly* …it all really had that much of an impact, didn’t it?
Abira: *nods, rubbing her forehead* On my brother, you mean? *tiniest laugh as she says teasingly* Oh sometimes I rather wondered…
Leah: *laughs* Mother has often said.
Abira: *lips flick and she nods*
Leah: *quieter* Do you think that Rowland…
Abira: *as Leah trails off she tilts her head and says softly, immediately* No, I don’t.
Leah: *arches an eyebrow in surprise* What do you think then?
Abira: *pauses* Do you remember…the Lady Rebecca? The real one, that is?
Leah: *nods once immediately* Of course. She died when the dragon attacked our village.
Abira: *nods quietly* Yes…and then Rowland…he was gone in the following weeks?
Leah: *tilts her head* What is it? *looks at her expression and then her jaw drops* No…oh Lord, Really?!
Abira: *smile flicks softly* Oh they were very much in love.
Leah: *grinning* Well that is…that…is brilliant! So you believe they..
Abira: *nods* I believe they found somewhere to be together, yes. *quietly* As they could…not be here.
Leah: *quieter* Do you believe with this proclamation they may return?
Abira: *shrugs a shoulder* I don’t know…depends how far they are, if they are going to hear it…
Leah: …of course. Though I rather think…this is going to be…heard. It’s drastically changing…
Abira: *firmly* It is meant to. It will not fix everything, not by a long shot. It might even make things worse, as I know already how many of our fellows will receive it. But it will be a step. It is long–centuries really–over do, and it is the right thing to do. 
Leah: *nods* I agree with all you have said. …ecstatically really.*grinning* …and I will be glad to be able to say so freely, finally.
Abira: *soft* That may be dangerous.
Leah: No more dangerous than any of this has been. And it is past time they know they are not unsupported…
Abira: *grins* Very true.
Leah: That there are people who knew all along how truly ridiculous it was and that it would get better. *exhale* That we are not all ignorant bastards, basically. That people know they are not monsters, they are the same as us. And that they should not have to live in fear, but rather be open with their fellow kind at least. That there are still people who know they are good, and true, and loved.
Abira: *smiles*
Leah: *beams and looks down at the proclamation and then looks back up* May I take this to him?
Abira: *nods suddenly* Of course you can. *leans over to hug her and kiss her cheek* I’ll be inside.
Leah: …don’t, tell them I’m going to him, yet–
Abira: *smile flicks as she laughs* To who?
Leah: *breaks into a wide grin, and then takes off at a run*

Adelina had excused herself from the main hall, following seeing Damocles, Rebecca and his party of knights return–and who with. She leaned against a column now, pressing a hand to her lips, tears threatening to fall despite her best attempts to hold them back. Reminding herself, her inner voice almost pleading, that her father was alive yet–that Ellaria and her mother had sent word the three of them were fine, it helped a little to stay her sorrow. Yet a tear still leaked free, followed by another and another before she was forced to rub her eyes with her forearm until they would stop.

It was Amber.

She knew she had to tell Damocles who it was they had found–who Rebecca had led them to, if only so she could tell him where to find her family. She knew more about Amber than she wished at that moment: her father had left her mother when he’d discovered the magic their daughter had. Her mother had turned to drinking, left Amber to run into the woods for her own safety. Yet incredulously enough, she had found a new family when she found the other muggleborns in the forest–eventually found love. Amber had taught her many spells, and more than that several tricks about how to survive. Now her body was a mystery for the nobility to puzzle over, evidently already benevolently pieced back together.

Her stomach churned at the thought and she doubled over behind the column. When she lifted her head, she realized secondly she had to swallow back a seething, bubbling, raging pit before she could approach Damocles. Otherwise, she would tell him things she should not. She thought softly of George sitting with Malcolm, of Oliver teasing her that morning, of Leanne talking about André with her cheeks as red as her hair. The images calmed her.

Even if she did still wish to retreat to George’s arms.

When she re-emerged, she headed down the hall once more, gathering up her courage before she knocked on the door. Rap, rap, rap. Her fist seemed small and inconsequential next to the reinforced wood, and she snapped back against it harder, adding in a fervent voice,

“Damocles?” It was only after a moment she remembered, and added a bit reluctantly, “My Lord?”

The door swung open of it’s own volition. Wondering if she could ever get used to such open magic, she nonetheless smiled a tad bit, knowing she envied their ability. Exhaling to calm herself, she realized Damocles was mostly alone now. Only his sister stood in the room–looking at her in such a way that Adelina tensed. She bit her lip.

“Adelina?”

Damocles sounded tired and a bit resigned. His face had the gaunt, drawn expression of a man twenty years older than him, scribbled on prematurely with wrinkles and lines she knew would go away if he would lay down and rest properly. Or if he’d prefer, she knew of an herbal concoction that could help–but of course, that she could not tell him. Nodding once, her eyes were still wide and locked on his sister. Abira had not moved, though she seemed to be offering a sad smile. Adelina thought it was meant to be encouraging.

“I wanted to inform you.” The words stuck in her throat. “I know..I know whose body you recovered.”

Damocles brows creased with surprise, but he said nothing at first, seeming to realize she needed to get through explaining before he should interject. Her voice rang with the same exhaustion as Damocles’ had as she continued.

“Her name is Amber.” Her voice broke slightly with anger. “She was my friend. I was expecting her…I was looking for her when I found the dragon instead." 

The dragon. Another innocent life for which Adelina mourned. It had done nothing on it’s own, of that she was sure. Whatever those monsters had done to it, it was not the dragon’s fault. Oliver’s explanation of the imperius curse had left her with the perfect metaphor. If Damocles did not blame his knights for what they had done under that curse–as was right and proper–she wished to argue he could not demonize the dragon for it’s actions either. It had not deserved such treatment.

Yet at that moment, it wasn’t important.

"I can get her to her family. But…may I…know what happened? Where was she?”

Adelina clamped her lips shut, refusing to shake now. She leaned against the back of the closest chair, arms folded on top of the back. Resting her chin, a thin white strand broke free and swayed away from her, carried by her hesitant breath. Damocles and Abira exchanged a look before nodding to each other–apparently affirming that she was not lying.

It was Damocles who spoke.

“Thank you for telling us. That will help. And…” His voice quieted. “We do not know specifics.” He said it softly in a tone that suggested he actually knew more than he would tell her. Her nose wrinkled softly at the patronizing, before her gaze softened as she considered he might mean to protect someone else by holding back. “It seems she was the unwilling…unlucky participant of a ritual, Adelina. She was sacrificed to…bind Claudia to the dragon.”

He now looked at her steadily as if to gauge her reaction. Wondering if she was now meant to be astonished at such a wondrous feat of magic, Adelina instead felt only tired. Her heart seemed to pound slower in sudden terror and anguish, but she endeavored quickly to keep herself calm. Tears would not help; they could only embarrass her now, and delay her further answers. Nodding stiffly, she cast her eyes back to the ground to take a moment to collect herself. Then she looked back up.

“Thank you for being honest.” Her words were heavy, her heart heavier. Turning, she thought wistfully of finding George. 

Abira spoke now, causing Adelina to still in her tracks.

“Adelina. We’d like to talk to you about something else.”

Her knees slammed together. Her heart leaped into her throat now, suddenly hammering with the fury of a rabbit’s leap to escape a fox. Pressing her lips together and reminding herself to breathe, it was George’s image–still in her minds eye–that calmed her enough to turn back around. She said nothing. A silver eyebrow rose as she beheld them, daring them to continue.

Abira continued softly, without hesitation.

“I know you won’t believe me when I tell you this.” Her voice was fervent and steady. “But you don’t have to be afraid.”

Still Adelina said nothing, trying to still her heart. Abira seemed to take a moment, as though contemplating how best to continue. Her gaze fluttered to the window, a hand slipped inside her pocket to wrap around her wand. The robe was a gift, she remembered dimly. She would have to find a way to return it to Leanne, even if she was forced to flee…

“Jude’s recovery is remarkable.” Abira settled on saying, her eyes still locked on Adelina’s with knowing. Damocles nodded once, his hand curling on the table. Tilting her head, she wondered bitterly if Jude had told then, but still refused to say anything. Her mind was whirling away from her, knowing she would always had rather risked herself to save another–and also knowing it was best not to speak and be tricked into condemning herself.

Abira seemed to guess it wasn’t enough after a moment as Adelina nodded instead.

“You saved his life.”

That was more direct.

For a moment, Adelina thought that time in the room ceased to exist. Her heart certainly stopped it’s wild, fluttery routine. She looked between Damocles and Adelina in the expanded moment–seeming to decide, thinking ruefully that she trusted George to continue treating Malcolm, that he would not allow anything to happen to his son, that beautiful little boy–and then nodding again at Abira. Her voice was defiant as her chin lifted.

“Yes.”

Damocles snorted. The bitter laugh startled her and both she and Abira looked at him suddenly. He waved a hand. Strange, Adelina thought, not understanding nobility in the slightest. The man who could only be seconds away from attempting to arrest her, was laughing at the thought. For an instant, she considered she should hate him for it–instead she felt confused. What was amusing about this situation in the slightest? Her hand gripped her wand tighter.

Abira was rolling her eyes as she looked away from her brother and said softly, “You have magic, then.”

It was blatant. It was meant, she thought, to shut her up in fear, or…else achieve some purpose she couldn’t understand. It did not stop Adelina from speaking.

“Yes. Yet I didn’t do anything but save his life.”

Abira waved her hand, echoing herself, “It’s all right-”

Adelina didn’t hear.

“I understand this is considered a crime, but it is for archaic, medieval and barbaric reasons. These reasons are of hatred, of prejudice and unnecessary fears, they are not of common sense. I would not harm a soul. I have not harmed anyone; in fact I have always done the opposite. And I just fought to defend you both–all of you here in fact, in spite of the fact that you required me to submit to a spell meant to tie my tongue and silence the truth, after first invading my mind. ”

“Adelina-”

“No, if you’re going to condemn me, I want you to hear all of it.”

At that Damocles looked back up.  Adelina crossed her feet behind the chair, still rather confused as to why they hadn’t moved to arrest her yet. A note of unease flitted across her lips as he spoke. He spoke calmly and assuredly, yet there was undeniable curiosity in his tone as well.

“I would like to know all of it.” His blue eyes hold hers without malice. “But first you have to understand something as well. I mean you no harm. Neither of us do.”

Abira nodded instantly, though she seemed less exasperated than her brother. Damocles stood up, causing Adelina to tense. She stood her ground, chin still lifting to keep their gazes equal, despite his superior height. He walked a little closer, and then leaned against the table himself. Exchanging a look with Abira, he met her eyes only as a thought seemed to occur to him.

“Does George know?”

“No.” Adelina said it instantly, without hesitation. If she was going to be condemned, she refused to let him be punished. He would hang as a conspirator. She knew he would want to protect her–would do anything, in fact, but there was Malcolm to consider as well. And the Stuarts had lost enough family members recently.

“…Ahuh.” Damocles’ amusement was clearly back. “Adelina.” He drummed his fingers across the wooden chair. “Since I have become Lord, George has adopted my nephew out, brought him out of quarantine and claimed him as his own without ever seeking my counsel or approval. He brought you to be healed here despite it risking our exposure, and our safety, and again without my consent. And he committed murder in self defense.”

Adelina kept her gaze on his steady, though she couldn’t help that her lips twitched in her pride.

“I assure you, I’ve given up on him.” Damocles laughed drily under his breath, lips twitching in his own small smirk and shaking his head. “If he knows this–then he shares my views, views I am kept from yet openly expressing.”

Adelina’s brows furrowed in confusion, though her heart seemed to be beating steadier now, her fear had been replaced only with bemused puzzlement. Again she looked between Abira and Damocles, her gaze wild-eyed and dangerously close to a removed surly mood. Slowly, she released her wand.

“I would only ask for his help.” Damocles said softly. “As I would ask for yours.”

Damocles nodded, leaning back and folding his own arms on the back of a chair. Drumming, his fingers were restless, yet he was otherwise steady and assured. Her eyes darted around the room, wondering idly if this was some kind of trap. A few breathless moments passed, and she said softly,

“I don’t understand.”

“That’s fair.” Damocles said softly. “I have not yet explained.”

Adelina’s blue eyes bored into him, making him silent as he struggled for the right words to assuage her instant fear. Abira spoke first.

“You are not the first muggleborn we have come across, Adelina. In fact you are not even the second. I…” Her voice faltered for a moment, but then she seemed to meet Adelina’s gaze firmly. “I was in love with one.”

Adelina couldn’t help her soft, scared question. “Was?”

“He was executed.” Abira’s voice was hard, the words sounding practiced–as though she’d had to force herself to say the for years now. “But not before teaching me the error of our forefathers and mothers. I started tutoring muggleborns, Adelina.”

At that Adelina’s eyes went wide, not entirely sure she could believe her and tensing again. Yet still, the assertion was odd, for she could not guess why they would do anything but arrest her now–unless they meant to find the depth of a non-existent conspiracy. Did they imagine she could name names?

Abira said she’d tutored muggleborns…

“And Damocles…” Only now Abira hesitated slightly.

“I was a prat.” Damocles said it easily, looking amused at his sister. “Was that what you were going to say?”

“Perhaps.”

“Ah, well, I was.” He looks back at Adelina, who now felt rather wrong-footed. “Took me longer, is all. But I believe and trust you haven’t done anything wrong to acquire magic, Adelina. I agree with you. The views are…archaic, medieval and barbaric. I wish to change them. But it isn’t that…simple to change an entire culture.”

Adelina stiffened slightly, before she nodded in soft, regretted understanding. “I suppose not. People will cling to their prejudices.”

“Unfortunately.” Damocles said diplomatically.

“Aggravatingly.” Abira countered. Adelina agreed with the latter.

“Yet we will figure out something. At this moment, it is best we continue everything in secret. So I must ask you do not let anyone else find out.”

Breathless, Adelina spoke slowly, now much relieved. Though still, she was without shame for her earlier sharp words. “I won’t. May I ask how you…”

Damocles pointed to his sister. Abira chuckled. “I saw you healing him, Adelina. I heard Flora yelling for help–but I was momentarily distracted with another knight and–”

“In short, my sister knows everything.” Damocles cut through her explanation with apparent aggravation. Adelina chuckled now, as Abira looked mollified and flattered.

“I try.” The words were modest, even as Abira looked back at Adelina and repeated herself. “You don’t have to be afraid of us–I swear. Just don’t let anyone besides George…know, at least not anyone you don’t trust.”

“George doesn’t–”

“Adelina.” Abira said it softly, her eyebrow arched. “I assume it was you who pulled off so miraculous a cure for Malcolm?”

Adelina fell silent, caught a moment in pride and ego for hearing it described as thus–still refusing to speak lest George find himself in trouble. Damocles seemed not to have put this part together–for he looked at his sister in shock, round-eyed.

“Oh, of course!”

“You always get there eventually, sweetie.”

“Shut up, sister.”

Adelina grinned seeing how fondly they looked at each other and then nodded slowly, regretfully adding to explain, “I couldn’t let him die…”

“How did you know how to do that?” Abira asked, clearly with interest piqued. Refusing to reveal any of her friends in the forest, not yet sure she fully trusted them–Adelina merely paraphrased. She explained how she worked as a healer growing up, how it was the reason she made her home in the forest. The more she explained, the more she realized there was no malice in the Lord’s eyes, nor his sisters. Both were curious and obviously well-acquainted to the topic. Damocles spoke a few times of knowing a few at court as well–Adelina assumed it was Jude, before realizing slowly he was referring to something else.

She had heard of his manservant being arrested before, and now ventured softly, “…Rowland wasn’t accused wrongfully, was he?”

Damocles looked caught–not having realized he had treaded so closely to his own story and now wrinkled his nose. Finally he shook his head, apparently at a loss for words. He only said softly, “I didn’t let anything happen there–and I won’t let anything happen here, Adelina. I know it’ll take you time to believe that but…”

Adelina nodded once, and again the words stuck in her throat. “Thank you, though. Truly…I had no idea…”

“That we could be reasonable?” Damocles joked with a tiny grin.

“Exactly, my lord.” Adelina said, including the title purposefully as she responded with soft smiles.

“I want you to be able to trust me with everything.” Damocles added softly, “I wasn’t lying when I said I wanted to know all of it. I know you are protecting people. That’s fine. You can tell me however much you are comfortable with–I don’t mind if I have to wait years. But…you are welcome here, in the meantime.”

Adelina nodded as she turned to leave. Though she still felt uneasy, she was relaxed a bit. It was odd to think the Lord of Faye now knew her secret–even odder to think he would not arrest and execute her for it. Looking between them for a moment, she nodded a farewell, intending now on finding George–of telling him everything they had said, momentarily glad to be distracted from the task of finding Amber’s family. It was odd, but it was a good odd undeniably.

Damocles’ arched an eyebrow as he heard the title and he added, making her turn around again. His words were spoken fondly, grinning, “By the way. That isn’t the only law I will endeavor to find ways around.”

Adelina furrowed her brows curiously in question.

“You have heard, I assume, that Maeve’s sister was…unfairly banished from court for marrying someone the law says was beneath her?”

Deborah, Adelina knew, a soft ache in her heart as she thought of Malcolm’s mother, and George’s best friend. He had loved her–that she knew. It did not bother her; it only saddened her, and as such it took her a few moments to realize what Damocles was saying.

She blushed.

“ I won’t do that.” Damocles said still grinning. “No matter who…say, a Lord, chooses to be with.”

Adelina lifted her eyes from the carpet, still pink but grinning at him wide-eyed and nodding. Though she didn’t think she liked that clearly people at court were gossiping about her relationship with George–whatever it was–she couldn’t deny her smile, nor the upturn in her general demeanor. It was impossible to be too upset when she thought of him. She would much prefer them to talk about something that made her this happy.

It wasn’t as if any would dare bother George about it. Not to his face, of course. Nor did it bother her what they said. This was something that made her feel nine, wrapped up in a blanket, hugging a stuffed animal, envisioning handsome knights riding dragons with her. She felt young and girlish, lost in a daydream a moment as she pictured George, filled with warmth at the very image. Her hand grazed her lips. Remembering now heat and pleasure, his lips on hers, the back of his hand tracing her thigh. Her smile flicked.

She didn’t feel quite so young then.

“Thank you, Damocles.”

He nodded at her, as did Abira as she added her name. Her exposure had caused her to worry her bottom lip she realized, and remembering her friends who had died still made her want to crawl into George’s arms. But at least now she might not have to worry. Adelina withdrew with a wider smile on her lips now, heart still thudding painfully fast, but now for entirely different reasons.

Damocles: *breathing heavily, he barely hears the sick crunch of bones breaking as he lands a sharp uppercut with his elbow to the knight’s jaw and nose, pushing him into the snow as his own back hits the stone of the wall behind him, the clang of metal ringing in his ears as he thrusts his sword down and pulls it out. As the man dies, Damocles shuts his eyes the briefest moment, his exhaustion threatening to catch up to him; magically drained from dueling the monster and physically worn, though neither grievance offends him so much as the betrayal and hurt gnawing at his heart. When his eyes open again a moment later, holding his sword against his knee he spies his sister*

Abira: *with a strangely high-pitched grunt as she spins in the snow, her sword takes care of one opponent who had clearly been momentarily stunned to see a woman dressed as she was, while her wand took care of another, the spell brutal and fast; she lands back facing forward breathing heavily. Her eyes squinting in the blinding sunlight’s reflection off last night’s snowfall, she makes out her brother leaning momentarily against the wall, and hurries to his side, her own back hitting the stone as she turns to him, shaking her head and extending a potion from under her cloak* Here.

Damocles: *breathing in controlled pants, he mutters* Abira I have to–

Abira: Take it. *sternly, going for her own water*

Damocles: *head shakes stubbornly even as he grasps the vial, eyes locked on hers, ears still ringing with the sounds of the battle all around them* That isn’t what–

Abira: Then say it. *snaps as she gulps down much needed water, ignoring the blood on her cracked lip as it chases down her throat*

Damocles: We’ve been betrayed. *instantly swallowing the potion*

Abira: *if she’s surprised, it doesn’t show on her face, but her eyes suddenly snap up to meet his and she holds his gaze steadily for a moment before she looks at the potion and says just as sternly as before* All of it.

Damocles: *stubbornly* No. You’ll need it too–our supplies are low enough as it is.

Abira: And what good would it do to let our commander–

Damocles: What’s a commander without an army to command? *disgruntled, even as his breathing steadies and he forces the rest of the potion back into her hand*

Abira: *glares at him a moment and then nods with a sigh* …very well. *tucking the potion back into her cloak, as her eyes come back up she snaps in a low voice* Who?

Damocles: *shaking his head very slowly as he mutters in a dark voice* …Anthony. Oliver.

Abira: *now with a glimmer of her shock on her face she looks away from him a second and tucks hair behind her ear, before saying coldly* I don’t believe that.

Damocles: It’s true. *bitter exhale, still breathing harshly*

Abira: *looks back at him, her eyes wide and she snaps angrily* Who said–

Damocles: Derrick. *eyes narrowing* I fought Marcus alone, Abira, becau–

Abira: Alone?! *startled, and she instantly looks him over again, examining for more injuries, and when she realizes he’s as fine as he could be, she lets out a relieved exhale*

Damocles: Yes. *snaps, annoyed by the interruption, even if he’s a bit smug by the obvious impress in her eyes as he continues* Because Oliver and Anthony made it their mission to stop reinforcements from coming.

Abira: But–*she pauses, her eyes having spotted a man about to enter their courtyard and her wand comes up on reflex, snapping a spell his way–after the pair exchange a few spells, one grazes her cheek as Damocles drags her back*

Damocles: *casting an explosive spell next to the aggravatingly-competent knight, the stones beside the man implode and bury him in an avalanche of debris, soot and snow*

Abira: *rubbing the burn on her cheek with an aggravated ‘ah!’ of pain, she clears her throat and looks at him for a second and finishes her thought* –why?

Damocles: *in a low mutter, pushing himself off the wall* I intend to find them.

Abira: *worry striking her face a moment, she pushes off and goes to follow him, walking sideways to check for threats as she mutters* Brother think-

Damocles: *shaking her off his arm as she’d grabbed it, he shakes his head once disgruntled, snapping* I’ve had it sister–

Abira: You’ve known both of these men for years! You’ve trained with them, fought side by side–

Damocles: I’m not the one that seems to need that reminder! *snaps, darting to the side to avoid a wayward spell and sending one in retaliation, turning back; his face truly contorted as he glares down at his sister*

Abira: Why would they betray you? *straining on her toes as she looks up at him* They have always been loyal-

Damocles: Until they made it their mission to ensure Marcus was able to kill me. *eyes narrow as he snaps bitterly* And he fled when he realized I wouldn’t go easily–

Abira: *grabs his arm again, shaking his head* At least ask them. Don’t just–

Damocles: *eyes narrowing, he breathes out disgusted* Abira-

Abira: You know them. *hand tightens around his wrist* They’re your friends. At least give them a fair–*breathing harshly* –a fair trial.

Damocles: *eyes go wide as his jaw sets at her* You think. *snaps* You think I would just willfully murder my own men? You don’t think that the possibility of magical coercion hasn’t crossed my mind? When we’re facing enemies who have made a game of coming after us at every angle? *angrily, snapping with a gesture* How many war fronts am I expected to fight on, sister? *he gestures away from them, her hand falling free* We have a hundred some odd knights from France attacking for no discernible reason, though André assures me that it isn’t my choice of bride, so much as Marcus’ choice of whore. *growls* Our bastard cousin whose made it her mission in life to destroy everything I love. Because–*his eyes shut briefly and a note of guilt enters his rage-filled voice* –I, *gestures at himself* took her brother from her. There is a dragon burning our homes to the ground– *he gestures to the sky* –and a vampire is walking the halls of our home, moving too fast for us to find him and those who are meant to aid me, those who are meant to kill him, they have turned against me! I understand Claudia’s grievance, and who knows how she convinced this pitiful lord to attack. The dragon is doing all it knows and Marcus is only a brutal, heartless monster. But Anthony? Oliver?!

Abira: *breathing heavily, her hand had come to her lips as his eyes fluttered shut and she finally snaps angrily, gesturing to the sky* You made it retreat once, this time you’ll kill it. You made that vampire flee you. You’ll rebuild our town, you will force this bastard of a French lord to his knees, and then you will demand the truth from your knights. Restrain them if you see them–warn everyone you find–but do not condemn them in this brutal fit of passion, brother. You would regret that.

Damocles: *breathing just as heavily, though his expression seemed to clear, apparently moved by the vote of confidence and he rubs his sore lip before shaking his head and looking at the ground a moment before he snaps* Tell everyone. Find as many people as you can. I have no doubt the cowards are hiding from us–I haven’t seen hide nor tail of them since this morning, but at least warn whomever you find. *he turns to whip another spell away from them*

Abira: *nods in firm agreement and she exhales bitterly, snapping her wand over his shoulder, saying under her breath* I understand, brother. I do.

Damocles: *nods once, eyes over her shoulder and then says in a stern, stubborn voice* And put something on that burn.

Abira: Brother-

Damocles: That’s an order from your Lord. *snapped*

Abira: *exhales in frustration, the pad of her fingers tracing the magical burn on her cheek and she shakes her her head, saying stubbornly* My Lord is a stubborn arse.

Damocles: I am. *the briefest look of amusement crosses his lips, not reaching his eyes or softening his angry expression for more than a moment, finally saying under his breath* Go sister. And warn them.

Abira: *she nods, hand dropping and grips her sword again, holding it up; looking back for the briefest moment and saying calmly* I love you.

Damocles: *his lips flick briefly again as he echoes her sentiment* I love you too. Be careful.

Abira: *grins incredulously* Aren’t I always?