Five Times Faye Closed her Heart to Silque
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"What in Mila's name just happened?"
Faye had already vanished from view, ducking away through the gloom towards one of the tents dotting the camp the Deliverance had made for the night. Still stunned by how abruptly she had been shot down, Silque simply stood there for a long moment looking in the direction the other girl had vanished off to.
Finally, she let out a sigh and started walking again. Well, she supposed what had happened had happened. Faye had rebuffed her offer, and that was that. Denied her chance to spend time talking to someone else, she supposed she could go see if there was anyone else in need of healing for now.
Later that night, after she had shed her clerical robes and was preparing to turn in for the day, Silque wondered if perhaps she should talk to her again. Faye had said she wasn't interested in gossip, at least in general. Maybe she would be more amenable to talking about Sir Alm then?
Stop it, Silque mentally chided herself. Faye had already said she wasn't interested in making friends. Wouldn't it be better if she simply let things be?
Still, even as she lay down and tried to get to sleep, she couldn't get the memory of the village girl out of her mind.
Why do I want to get to know her so much? She asked herself. It was true that there weren't many other girls in the Deliverance, but that alone wasn't any reason for her to care that much about befriending Faye in particular. And her rejection had stung, true, but for some reason Silque wasn't content with just leaving it at that.
But there was something about Faye. About the way she looked.
As Silque rolled over in her sleeping bag and continued to ponder it, it finally struck her.
Despite Faye always being at Sir Alm's side, despite always sticking with her gaggle of friends from the village she'd grown up in...
Something about Faye seemed lost and desperately lonely.
I see now. Silque breathed out a quiet sigh at the revelation. She reminds me of myself. Back then, back before...
She'd try again, she decided. If the opportunity presented itself, she'd try to make friends with the quiet girl once again.
"I've lost her again..."
Silque stared at Faye's retreating back. A part of her wanted to chase after the girl, but she knew that it would only make Faye even more annoyed.
And so instead she turned away, heading back in the direction of her own tent.
"I suppose it was my fault for not taking the hint the first time," Silque murmured to herself. Even as she continued walking, she flashed back to the words Faye had greeted her with.
"Hello again, Silque. You sure are persistent."
She sighed. She'd tried to be accommodating, tried to offer a topic she'd felt Faye would be more interesting in talking about, but she supposed she just had to face facts.
If Faye simply wasn't interested in being her friend, then there really wasn't much she could do.
And yet. And yet.
The expression that had crossed Faye's face when she spoke of Sir Alm... Silque couldn't place it directly, but something about it made her heart twinge.
She'd always had a heart for the hurting. That was what Father Nomah had told her back in Novis, and she hadn't disagreed. It was simply not in her to see someone in pain and leave them be. And though Silque could not claim to fully understand the hows and whys of it, she knew that Faye was hurting.
And yet, how to help her when Faye seemed insistent on pushing her away?
A call came from the medical tents – the patrol had gotten into a skirmish and there were wounded. There were always wounded. In flesh and blood, heart and soul.
Silque hurried over, and for the next few hours her thoughts were occupied as she whispered soothing prayers to her wards and worked to mend bloody wounds.
Her work completed for the moment, Silque returned to contemplating the subject of the quiet village girl who had rebuffed her twice already.
Finally she took a deep breath and nodded to herself. If Faye truly did insist on keeping her at an arm's length, then Silque would respect that wish. But she resolved that she would also always be nearby. Not too close to intrude, but close enough to reach out and offer aid if Faye ever sought it.
It was all she could do. And it was the least she could do.
"Silque!" As Faye's call reached her ears, Silque looked up from the hymnal she had been reading to see her newfound friend walking up to her and waving with her free hand. The other was holding onto a bundled cloth that swung by her side as she walked up.
"Faye? What's the matter?"
"Nothing much, actually. I managed to scrape together some ingredients from the town we just visited to make some honey cookies, so I thought," she shrugged and began unwrapping the bundle, "you know, that I'd come share them with you."
"Oh, how lovely!" She accepted the cookie Faye with a grateful nod. "Thank you so much, Faye."
"Don't mention it." Faye smiled and the faintest hint of rose dusted her cheeks. "It's the least I could do to make up for... well, how I treated you before."
Silque shook her head. "Faye, I already told you it's all right. I'm just glad you decided to be my friend after all."
"Heh. You're really kind, Silque." Her gaze turned wistful. "When I realized I missed having you around, I was actually a little scared to come talk to you. I thought... well, you'd have every right to not want to talk to me after that."
"Well, I admit I may have been a little presumptuous as well. After all, I just assumed you'd like to gossip with me when I didn't really know anything about you." As Silque spoke, she carefully broke the cookie into two neat halves. It had always been a silly habit of hers – making each piece smaller and easier to put into her mouth. "So, shall we put all that behind us? We've no reason to keep dwelling on the past, after all."
"Okay, deal!" Faye put her own cookie to her mouth and took a large bite out of it. She chewed and swallowed with obvious relish before noticing that Silque had yet to eat any of her own snack. "Well, what are you waiting for? Come on, try it!"
Silque chuckled once and raised a piece to her lips before popping it into her mouth. Her eyes widened and then she nodded appreciatively at the taste. "Mm! This is really good, Faye! You're quite the baker!"
"Thanks." Faye smiled as she polished off her own treat. "I used to practice baking a lot. I would make all sorts of things for Alm. Honey cakes, butter cookies, you name it." She sighed, and suddenly a gloomy expression stole across her face. "Imagine how I felt when I learnt that he doesn't like sweet food. All the time he was just eating it to be polite!"
"Oh, my!" Silque chuckled as she continued to eat. "I suppose that must have been embarrassing."
"Tell me about it." Faye said as she uncorked her waterskin and took a long drink. After she finished and wiped her mouth, she shook her head once. "In fact, yes, I wish he had told me about it. Then I could have studied how to make him the foods he actually likes."
Silque smiled and wondered if she should speak. She'd seen that expression before, on the faces of the villagers at Novis Greatport and the priory. She supposed it was always obvious given the way Faye seemed to live her life in Alm's orbit, but now that she had seen it for herself, it was hard to deny that Faye was completely smitten with her childhood friend.
She felt her heart flutter at the thought for the briefest of moments
"You really do care a lot about Sir Alm, don't you?"
The turn was so abrupt and so obvious that Silque could have sworn she actually did hear the slam of a door on Faye's heart. In an instant, her entire demeanour changed. She was still smiling – no, she was still keeping a smile on her face, and that wasn't remotely the same thing – but her shoulders were now tense and stiff as she hunched over, as if trying to shut herself away.
Faye continued to chew mechanically for a long, moment before she swallowed, audibly.
"Silque," Faye looked over at her cleric friend, and then shook her head once. There was a pause before she took a deep breath and expelled in a long, slow sigh. "Can we talk about something else? Please?"
"O – of course." Silque said, trying to hide her wince. Casting about for another subject, she brought up the topic of how Faye's combat training had been going recently, and after a bit Faye seemed to relax more as the discussion wore on.
But as Silque lay down that night, she could not shake the image of Faye, staring at nothing with eyes that were too wide and hands that had tightened so much that they had crushed the cookie they that held.
"Oh, Miss Silque!" She broke off from her stride as she heard the voice of one of Faye's village friends.
"Just 'Silque' is fine, Tobin." She offered him a smile and the slightest of bows. "Good day to you."
"Yeah, nice to see you too," the villager raised a hand to rub at the back of his head, "but, are you, uh, on your way to see Faye now?"
"Well, yes, I suppose. I wanted to ask her if she felt up to a walk. Why, is something the matter?" Silque frowned and tried to ignore the feeling of squirming unease in her belly.
"Yes. But not really. Well... sort of?" Tobin glanced over his shoulder. "Look. She's... uh, she got a bit of a shock just a while ago. So if you are gonna see her, I guess, just try not to upset her? More. Upset her more than she already is, I mean."
Silque nodded her acquiescence and Tobin smiled at her before letting her walk on. Silque frowned.
Faye, upset? That was news to her. She had been unusually chipper during their morning meal. Almost as if she had made her mind up about something.
But now, if she really was withdrawn and upset...
Her walk was more purposeful now and as she neared Faye's tent she wondered about what she could say or do to help her. Most likely whatever had upset her had something to do with Sir Alm. She had followed after him for their morning training sessions, although that had happened often enough that Silque hadn't paid it much mind.
"Faye?" Silque called as she drew back the fabric covering the tent. "Are you in there?"
"Silque?" Faye's voice floated up from the gloomy interior. "What is it? Is anything the matter?"
"I came to see you..." Silque looked around the tent and saw that Faye was sitting on a stool near the far corner of the tent, arms folded in and hugging herself. Something about seeing Faye all curled up like that sent another painful twinge through her heart, and Silque resisted the urge to frown. Instead she tried to offer an encouraging smile. "Shall we head outside and take a walk? It's no fun being inside a stuffy tent in the heat of day."
"I'm fine, thanks." Faye had turned her head away from Silque, and was now focusing very intently on the blank canvas of the tent. "I... don't really feel like going out right now. You go enjoy yourself, okay? Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."
"Worry?" Silque repeated. "Faye... did something happen?"
Faye's silence told her all she needed to know. And suddenly Silque once again felt that same gulf that had separated the two of them the first time she'd extended the offer of friendship and had been rejected.
Well, not quite the same. As Silque looked at Faye she could tell her friend was working very, very hard on keeping her expression composed and neutral. She could see the anguish in Faye's eyes, no matter how hard she tried to hide it.
Perhaps it was because Silque knew Faye much better by this point.
Or perhaps it was because Faye found it much, much harder simply to maintain her composure now.
After all, it was far more difficult – nearly impossible – to close the door to a heart that was already broken.
"Faye..." Silque hesitated. She knew from experience that while Faye was willing to share many things with her, there were still lines she didn't want Silque to cross. And yet, how could she not speak of such things when it was so plainly the source of Faye's current misery? "Faye... did Alm-"
"Silque." Faye's voice was a quavering rasp forced out through a tight throat. "Just – leave me alone. Please."
She stood there, at a loss for what to do. Every fibre in her body screamed at her to move forward, to offer what help and comfort she could. But she also knew that if she tried she would be rebuffed and rejected again.
All the help she could offer would be of no use if someone refused to accept it.
After a long moment, Silque nodded once. "All right," she said softly. "But... if you ever want to talk about it, I'll be there for you. All right?"
Faye made no reply as Silque stepped out and lowered the tent flap again.
Faye emerged from the tent near dinnertime. She bore the same quiet smile she always did, and as always she sat in the circle of their group, contributing little to the discussion but looking as if she were paying rapt attention.
Silque did not miss the uneasy glances shared between Gray, Tobin and Kliff, and one hand strayed to her chest, as if to soothe the ache in her own heart.
Faye had left, suddenly, and without a word of farewell.
When it came down to it, Silque couldn't say that she was particularly surprised. To the very end, she had been withdrawn when it came to the matter most dear to her heart, and she supposed that being here, at Sir – no, King Alm's coronation would have simply been too painful for her to watch.
No, Silque was not surprised. But she was still disappointed.
She'd hoped – foolishly, perhaps – that Faye might have been able to move on. But then, they had been in a war until just now, and a war was perhaps not the best place for such things.
But if she was not able to move on, had it also been too much to ask that she would come say good bye before she headed back?
No, Silque decided. That probably wasn't the reasoning behind Faye's silent absence. She would have decided that there was no point staying for the celebration if she could not at least fake being happy. After all there was no need to drag anyone else's mood down, was there?
Not even Silque's.
As the festivities wore on, Silque stood at the periphery, observing the proceedings and giving polite smiles when she caught sight of someone she recognized from the Great War. And as cheers and revelry gradually faded away into the silence of night, Silque found herself staring out the window of the castle, staring up at the silver moon.
And she found herself contemplating her options and choices.
As the war had neared its end she had decided that she would soon set out on another pilgrimage. Even if the Mother was no longer physically present with them, her teachings still held, and she wished to spread her peace and her healing through as much of the war-torn lands as she could.
Yes, she had planned that.
She rested her hands on the window ledge and wondered if it would be all right for her to feel more than a little cross with Faye. After all, her leaving so abruptly had thrown Silque's own plans into disarray.
She had planned to begin her pilgrimage in Rigel, the land of her birth, but now it seemed that she would be taking a very, very long detour.
She turned to the bed, where her pack that contained her few personal belongings lay. Her staff of office lay next to it, gleaming in the moonlight. Silque slipped the pack onto her shoulder and hefted the rod, and smiled slightly as she felt the familiar weight in her hands.
She'd always had a heart for the hurting.
And she knew Faye was now hurting, the pain as raw and blistering as any infected wound.
She only hoped Faye would let her in – just enough to soothe her pain, even the tiniest bit. But even if she did not, Silque resolved she would still always be nearby. Not too close to intrude, but close enough to reach out and offer her aid if Faye ever sought it.
It was all she could do. And it was the least she could do.
With a nod of silent farewell to the castle and its slumbering inhabitants, Silque began her long walk south, to Ram Village.
Author's Notes: Not the end of the story. Will post the second part, hopefully in a day if the editing doesn't go completely wrong.