A/N: Sorry its so short. Kinda fluffy here, but i like it. I know i didn't update, i've been bogged down with school. Also, I'm working on fixing the problem with who's thinking, and redoing a few chapters, so i SWEAR i will have more up.
Having long since given up on making sense of their orders, the small group started off the next morning, heading for Mithros-knows-where. Daine found herself suddenly very grateful for the grogginess that accompanied mornings. None of her friends were awake enough to engage in conversation, and Daine was feeling...odd. Her mind still too crowded, like someone had dug into her skull and stuffed it with questions like a Midwinter turkey.
Keeping Cloud to the back of the group, she managed to get some time to herself. The familiar clomp of the pony's hooves were comforting, in an odd way. Like the scent of the soaps Numair used, or the herb packets Ma used to keep in her pockets. Daine sighed and leaned wearily against Cloud's neck. Things were finally starting to slow down, and she liked it.
Her teacher, on the other hand, was very much on edge. He was still shaken by the recent events that had rolled together in his mind. Oddly enough, he found he was more scared for Daine than himself. He couldn't trust her safety to anyone or anything anymore, not even himself. He had failed to protect her, and refused to let himself forget that.
Numair glanced back at Daine. Her eyes were closed, or at least they seemed to be. It was hard to tell with her faced buried in clouds mane. She looked so...peaceful. Numair sighed. He did not like war, and neither did Daine. Gods bless her, she hated killing.
She's a healer, he realized suddenly, Not a warrior. He remembered her first true battle at Pirate's Swoop, her insistence on keeping the animals out. Scenes played out for the mage in his own mind, captivating, like some exotic dance.
He saw Daine pleading to leave the animals alone, her fear for their lives. Not for the other fighters, but the most endangered warriors. That wasn't something a warrior would think about. No, a warrior would immediately start planning on how to use-not save- the animals.
He saw Daine throwing herself in front of her teacher, blocking the dragon. A warrior might have attacked the dragon, gotten out of the way, maybe used the opportunity to catch the enemy of guard. Its not characteristic of a warrior to risk their lives like that. That's what a healer would do.
Numair was starting to confuse himself. Honestly, he knew war wasn't right for his magelet. If there was a way-any way- he could keep her safe, preserve her youthful innocence, he would do it in a heartbeat.
Daine trotted Cloud up to see Numair. She was in need of company now, and he was the only one really awake. He looked thoughtful, but definitely awake. She smiled. She knew that expression too well. She nearly had to yell to get his attention.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked bluntly, cocking her head to one side. Numair smiled tiredly.
"Oh, you know me Magelet. Everything at once, only its really nothing." Daine sent him a look, like I know your lying so why bother? He looked away.
He's so old, Daine realized with some shock. He's only thirty, and there's white in his hair. Even his cheerful vanity seemed to have disappeared lately. He would have dyed those hairs if he'd been himself. He looked like he'd been living a thousand years rolled up into the last few months, something Daine understood.
She sighed. He's not a fighter. He's a mage, a scholar. He doesn't want to be here, where you can't go two inches without seeing death. He'd be so happy to return to his books, wall himself up in his study and finally get some peace. He was meant to help people. Poor 'Mair, all he ever wanted to help the world, and now he's destroying it.
" 'Mair?" She asked cautiously. When he looked up her, she continued. "Can you tell me about Carthak again?"
He smiled at her, a special kind of smile he reserved just for her."You've been there, Magelet," he pointed out. He laughed when she shifted real puppydog eyes, and began.
When they stopped to water the horses, Numair decided to talk to Daine about his thoughts. He steered her away from the Lioness, and together they began down an old hunting trail. It was hard to begin, but he forced himself.
"Daine, I've been thinking lately," he began, "And I've come to some conclusions." He kept his eyes on the ground. "You know I hate this war. I don't like what its done to you."
"To me?" daine asked with a frown. What has it done to me?
"Yes you. Magelet, you're a healer. Every time you have to kill someone, I can see a piece of you dying. Do you know how hard that is for me? I know you Daine, you don't even eat meat anymore."
"Where are you going with this?" She asked warily.
Numair sighed. "Jon is going to ask you whether you want to continue traveling with me or one of two other things; travel on your own or with a rider group to heal the animals, help our healers, or try to use your magic for some expreiments that may prove very helpful at Corus. I want you to accept one of the latter options.
"W-what? I'm fine, Numair. I need to do this. If you're trying to be gallant and save me, its too late. War changes people, and you can't reverse it!" she turned to leave, but Numair grabbed her hand.
"i'm not trying to be 'gallant.' Daine, just think about it, please?"
"Daine-" he cut himself off when he saw his student jut her chin. There was no way he was going to win now. "Fine, but we'll talk about this later." He hesitated, the added, ":I just worry about you Daine."
She was looking at her hand, tiny in his large one. "But I worry about you, too," she whispered to no one.