A/N: So here is my third chapter! This story was kind not written all that well before, so I'm editting it, and while in the process of doing that I have decided that it needs a little bit of tweeking. So I deleted my other chapters and here I am with my third NEW chapter! Yay! I'm going to start working on the forth chapter as soon as I can!
Disclaimer: I own nothing familiar to you!
I slowly open my eyes my head resting against a rather warm chest. I lift my head off him and look at his still sleeping face. Smiling slightly, he was still alive. That was definitely a good sign. I scan his body my hand gently touching the wound across his stomach. Feeling slightly queasy, I focus on his face again.
I gently brush a few strands of black hair out of his eyes; they do not open. Standing up I shiver in the freezing morning air. I look down at the pile that is our clothes and grimace. They look about the same murky brown color. I pick out the cleanest pieces of clothes and laugh quietly to myself. His cloak, shirt, and my undershirt. Slipping them on and walk towards the one opening and look over my shoulder "be alive when I get back" I whisper before straightening my back and leaving.
I close my eyes and image the map of my fathers land; most of the caves are located on the northwestern side of the land, so my aim is to go southeast. I would if I knew where southeast is. So I sigh heavily and begin walking down the ruff path I'd made last night from dragging him. The rain from last night has created a sparkling mass of green leafs all around me. The few birds we have left in our small glen are whistling cheerfully.
Normally I suppose I would be very happy but right now, I am quite miserable trudging threw the woods at the very earliest hours of the morning in damp, clinging clothes.
My feet suddenly hit a solid ground and I can hardly keep myself from jumping up and down in joy. I look around quickly and run towards the barn stealing inside I quickly scan the huge barn. My father loves this barn almost more then he loves our house. I think it is because the barn is twice the size of the house. I rush over to a small ladder nearly hidden by hay and climb up into my hide away. It is a small area that I cleaned out a few years ago. Sitting down on the gray floor, I can see across the entire length of the barn. Everything I don't want my mother to find is hidden up here. The servants know were it is, but my parents don't and that's all that matters to me.
I grab a small bag from the corner and produce a pare of black pants and a clean white shirt a carefully folded black cloak is at the very bottom. I look around one more time making sure that no one is about. I quickly strip off the dam clothes and muddied boots and slide into the cold stiff clothes from my bag. Nothing except my black boots fit me right but that doesn't really matter. I grab my bag and climb back down the ladder.
Searching threw a small cabinet next to my ladder I find a white cloth and to my surprise clothes that might fit my stranger. I shove it all into my bag looking around, I feel quite paranoid. I rush over to a cabinet on the opposite side of the barn I fling open the two small doors and nearly scream in triumph. Food and herbs galore! I don't think I've ever been so happy to find a loaf of bread. I grab two loafs and throw it into my bag, a couple apples and herbs that I don't recognize.
Something shinny catches my eye and I grab it and find three needles and a thick white spindle of thread in my hand. I shrug and throw them into my bag. I quietly shut the cabinet doors and walk towards the barn entrance; button the top of my bag shut. I slip out and quickly rush into the forest signing in relief as I hid behind a maple tree.
I close my eyes and picture the way I'd come to make it to the barn. Now all I have to do is do it backward. It sounds easy but I'm sure its not.
The eerie silence of our small glen puts my senses on the very edge of screaming. It never seems quite natural for all these trees to be so silent; the only sounds created by wind, and the occasional scampering of some unseen animal trying to gather food for the long winter it will have to ride out. I'm what is making the most noise, my feet are doing the cracking and it is driving me insane.
Crack.I freeze, Goosebumps fly across my body and I take a shuttering breath. I was not the one who made that sound. And my entire body seems to agree. I spin around scanning everything; but I find nothing. Another cracking, my stomach is churning as fear seems to be dragging my heart out of my chest. This is all your imagination Avis, its all in your head, its all in your head. I glance at a bush near the base of a cluster of oak trees, something makes them move. Swallowing a scream I burst into a desperate run towards the cave.
I hear and see nothing. Abruptly, I find myself panting in front of his cave. I laugh at myself and shake my head. Only I could get frightened that easily by a deer, or some sort of creature like that. Straightening up I march towards the entrance to his cave and silently slip in.
The man's eyes are open when I look down at him, he has truly beautiful blue-green eyes. I force out a feeble, nervous smile. To my relief he doesn't attempt to sit up; he gives me a pained smile in return before gasping and clutching his side. He touches his wound which only makes him gasp again. Those beautiful eyes close and I rush forward dropping to his side, and pull my cloak off his near naked body. The wounds, for the strangest reason, look like they've healed up just a little bit. I stare at the open gashes for long moments, my eyes scanning his body in a most immodest way. I swallow hard trying to keep myself from gagging. I, honesty, have no idea what to do.
"Do you have a needle?" the man asks in a hoarse whisper, his eyes gradually opening and looking up at my face.
I nod hurriedly and drop the black sack on the ground. I shift threw the many things I've brought, and finally come up with the needle and thread.
"Good, now sit me up," he orders, I stand up and circle him until I am at his shoulders. I crouch down and slide my slim arms under his muscular ones and carefully pick him up and drag him over to the cave wall. His jaw tightens up and his eyes clamp shut, but not even the slightest moan escaped his tightly closed lips. Jumping away from him, after propping him gently against the cold wall, I grab my bag along with the needle and thread then kneel down next to him.
"You're going to need to clean the needle," he explains, "or the wound will become infected." His eyes are glossy and his voice is tight. Signs of unshed tears are clear in his face.
"I don't know how to," I admit softly, my eyes shifting away from his face and towards the dirty cave floor. Disappointment with myself probably shows in my features. A low chuckle makes my head jerk up, he is smiling ever so slightly. Its such a lovely smile that for a moment I am mesmerized, then he nods towards my bag and I glance swiftly towards it before sending him a questioning look.
"Start a fire," he begins but I cut him off with a shake of my head. He let out a long sigh, not exactly a frustrated one, but one that shows that he's giving up. Due to the pain he's probably going through right now, he is probably hiding any frustration he may harbor against my ignorance.
"Do you have flint?" he asks, I bite my lip anxiously and dive back into my bag. Praying desperately that there will be some, my hands abruptly make contact with something hard and cold. Pulling it out, I find, to my amazement, a rock. I showing it to him, and he nods his head. I place it in his hand, stand up, and rush out of the cave to search for anything to burn. After the rain fall from yesterday, it will be rather impossible to find anything dry. I circle around the cave, several times before I feel that I will not find anything and begin to give up. Abruptly, my foot makes contact with something and I am thrown to the ground. Sputtering, I leap back up, just to find exactly what I had been searching for. Before me lies a pile of dried leafs, twigs, and a few sturdy logs. Crouching down I scoop them up; every few seconds I send suspicious glances towards the silent forest. Of course there is no obvious answer to how this pile came to be where I was walking, but if some forest creature did leave it for me I suppose I owe it my gratification.
Feeling quite odd, I whisper a rushed, "thank you." Before I swiftly finish gathering and head back towards the mouth of the cave.
When I enter, my mysterious companion is exactly as I left him. I cannot help but grin as I drop my load a few feet away from him, he raises a brow then shakes his head as though he once again knows something that I do not. Biting back the questions that are raging in my head, I arrange the pile of dried tinder in a fashion that he seems pleased with. Although I'm not quite sure why he would be pleased with the bazaar arrangement.
He begins to instructing me quite carefully, and very thoroughly, on the art of lighting a fire. I know for a fact that the second I get this fire lit, I will never be able to do it again, but I do not inform him of this. Taking knife to flint, I begin to cautiously strike the flint with the knife. A strangled gasp erupts from my mouth when a flame abruptly jumps to life, it flairs up far to close to me and singes the edge of my oversize shirt. Leaping away from the flames, I end up falling backward onto my back. Embarrassment colors my cheeks as I push myself back onto my feet.
"I was not expecting that, that's all," I stutter as an explanation for my peculiar actions.
An amused smile lights up his features. But his brow is brought down by pain, and he seems to remember, not that he ever forgot, that he still needed to get his gapping wounds tended to.
"Your going to have to put the needle in the flame, but only for a second," he orders, I take a deep breath, eyeing the flame. Bending down I scoop the needle off my pack and swiftly dip the needle into the flame. When I feel my skin burn slightly, I jerk the needle out of the blaze.
"Alright, now comes the harder part," my shoulders sag slightly, and I kneel next to him, "your going to have to clean out the wounds, I'd suggest you start on my shoulder." Are eyes met and he simply forces out a grimacing smile.
"You've never done any of this have you?" he inquires in a way that suggests her already knows the answer. Rolling my eyes, I nod my head as an answer, before forcing myself to sit up straight.
"Now listen you, I saved your life and that's got to count as something," I defend myself, pointing at him with the needle.
"I'll still die if you don't clean it out," is his nonchalant answer. Sighing heavily I except my fate, and look from his shoulder to his eyes.
Once again, he explains the technique of cleaning the wound. Ordering me to fetch the needed provisions, I find that I already have all the needed supplies with me. In any normal circumstance I would have paused to wonder at my great fortune, but my patient, if I could call him that, would not allow me to so much as hesitate.
The explanation was quite simple, crush the herbs put them on his wound, wash the herbs off with boiled water, then stitch the wound up, apply more herbs and, finally, bandage the wound. The only question left in my mind after his five minute healer class is how I am going to boil water without a pan. But he swiftly answers my unstated question.
"Give the water pouch to me," he instructions. I can just barely hear him murmur words that have no meaning to me, "there." He hands it back to me. When my hand makes contact with the pouch I gasp. Its hot."How did you do that?" I instantly question then, before I can stop myself, I say, "you know magic." He gives me quite an odd look before nodding his head slowly.
"I know enough," is his simple, evasive, answer.
Tightly, I clench my jaw shut to make sure I don't ask anymore questions. The enormity of the task before me abruptly bears down on me, I wish I hadn't gotten out of bed this morning. I bite my lip and shake my head, no backing out now Avis. I take a deep breath and begin.
As I begin to go through the motions of crushing the herbs, I mentally prepare myself for the morose action of actually applying the dead plant to his oozing wound. I feel my stomach flip, as I pick up the first amount of herbs. I pause, take a deep breath, and press the plant to his wound.
The abrupt feeling of power that rushes through my system causes me to become slightly lightheaded. Calmness washes over me, my eyes meet his and I smile reassuringly at him. His features are twisted with pain and a strange sort of concern.
Then my eyes turn back towards the gapping wound and I feel myself begin to gage. Before I have a chance to really start vomiting I swiftly restart my task, the moment my hand brushes up against his moist skin, I get the same rush of power and then serene calmness. At this point of course I cant pause to try and figure out what could be causing this, I simply continue with the task set before me.
When I've finished with applying the crushed plant, I hesitate for a moment, wondering if I should give him time to rest before continuing.
"Keep going," he manages to say with a horse voice that hints at his discomfort, "the quicker you get done, the better."
Picking up the still warm water jug, I warily wash the herbs off the wound. Once I am sure that I have washed the wound thoroughly enough, I reclaim the needle and thread, easily slipping the thread into the needle. Seeing him flinch, I begin chewing on my bottom lip, hoping that my lack of confidence does not show. He props his shoulder forward slightly, it takes me a moment to realize that he does this so that it will be easier for me to reach over his lanky body. It is, of course, at this moment that I note just how tall and slender this mysterious male is. My hand quivers slightly as I reach forward, one hand supporting my body by pressing lightly against his chest, the other wavering over his wound.
"Don't worry," he crocks, "its rather like mending pants." Looking once more into his blue-green eyes, I take the first plunge. He gasps slightly before cutting it off and tightly clamping his jaw shut.
"I'm sorry," I abruptly blurt, I can see him shake his head and begin to say something. However, before he has a chance, I swiftly begin to sow him up. Its just like sewing up pants, I chant silently to myself. I've had much practice in the art of mending pants, for once I am grateful to my mother for her orders to learn how to sew. Abrupt queasiness washes over me, I swallow closing my eyes momentarily. I feel myself swaying, of course it has to be now that I remember my aversion of blood. Another one of those odd washes of calmness rushes over me. I turn back to my patient and swiftly finish his shoulder, noting off the thread and smiling momentarily at my work.
"Not bad," he murmured, looking down his nose at my sewing. I cannot image myself allowing an inexperienced sixteen-year-old sew me up, but he really had no choice. Smiling wearily at him, I take my hands off of him, wobbling momentarily before gaining my balance again. The wash of nausea that covers me is so unexpected that I hardly have time to leap to my feet and over to the cave entrance before vomiting. When I'm certain that I wont throw up again I stand up and turn back to the dark haired man. Blue-green eyes seem to be questioning me as I make my way back to him.
"I apologies," I muster up the courage to say over my roaring embarrassment, "blood makes me sick."
"I can tell," he replies gathering up the slightest of smiles.
"Well yes, of course, obviously it makes me sick," I abruptly blurt. My hands come up and cover my mouth out of habit, he chuckles lowly, and my building tension crumbles.
He begins to speak about how to wrap up the wound with the clothe that I had, I jumped forward to wrap him up. When the bazaar calmness fell over me I barely noticed. Pausing only to press my hair out of my eyes, I was finished with my task of dressing all of his wounds in minutes. When it was all finished I once again scooted back and admired my work. A feeling of pride swelling within me.
"I might-" he trailed of taking in a shaky breath, drawing my attention away from my job on his wounds and back to the intense pain he must have been going through, "make a healer out of you yet." Laughter left my mouth abruptly and I shake my head.
"I barely made it through," I replied, sweat gleamed on his forehead. Pride was instantly replaced with guilt, I hurt him. I,Avis daughter of a farmer, hurt someone.
He manages a laugh, probably reading my thoughts by the sorrowful expression on my face, he says, "You did well."
Bringing my eyes up to meet his, I smile. That of course is the moment that my mother has to interrupt.
"Avis!" I can just barely hear her call from the woods, from years of habitual reactions to hearing my named yelled, my head snaps up.
"At least someone noticed my absence," I mutter rather darkling, then, turning back to my patient, I order, "Stay here." Standing up, I wobble a few times before straightening out completely and brushing myself out. Looking down on my dress with an expression of distress adorning my features, I let a slight cry of afflict leave my mouth. "How will I ever explain this blood?" I wail quietly to myself. Huffing one last time, I turn to leave the cave. Almost missing him whisper my name under his breath, almost as though he was trying it out.
Glancing over my shoulder one last time, I say, "There is a little bit of water in the bag, there is also some food and clothes." A light blush adorns my features when it finally hits me just how undressed this man is.
"Thank you," he calls and I know that he is watching me as I leave. Don't fall over, I chant to myself. Relief makes my shoulders sag slightly when I am finally out of sight of him.
"Avis dear!" my mother fussed touching my shoulder as she examined the blood on my shirt "what happened?"
Yes darling, tell me! What happened! I rage within myself, searching desperately for an answer that would seem expectable. "I uh-" cut myself? "found an injured deer," I blurted, "It was hurt." Blinking, I can hardly stop myself from having a look of confusion fly across my own face, of course its hurt you dimwit! I trailed off as my mother glared at me in a deadly way.
"A hurt deer?" she questions in a tone that suggests she does not believe me, of that she cannot believe that I would sacrifice a perfectly good shirt to assist an injured animal. I nod my head innocently, widening my eyes ever so slightly. "Darling you leave the hurt deer to die, deers are for eating, not for saving and certainly not for trying to heal in men's clothes," she gestured madly at my clothes, then presses her hands to her mouth shaking her head in a way that suggests that she feels as though she should simply give up.
"But mama," I cry, "I can't leave it out there!" I huffed and stomped my foot when my mother put her hand up demanding my silence. "Please! Let me go out at night," I plead as a final resource.
Mother's lips press into a tight line. I can almost hear what she is thinking, her expression is such a deep look of contemplation that I begin to fear that she won't let me go. She is shaking her head when I take the time to notice her again. "Alright," she concedes in a low voice, "but don't let anyone see you." she touches my shoulder looking at the blood once again. "Now get changed before the servants start to ask questions, you know how your father would react." Yes, I do know how my father would react. I would never leave the house without an escort again.
Swiftly, I slip into the house. Running up the steps, I fly into my bedroom, silently closing the door. Due to the fact that Angela is busy preparing dinner with the rest of the servants, I have to put my dress on without an assistance. Shifting on layer after layer was pure, suffocating, torture. For the second time in my life I felt a strong sense of being out of place. Even my clothes seemed like they would be better placed on one of our piglets. After I finish dressing, I fold up the pants I had been wearing and walk over to my bed sliding them under my mattress before sitting down on it. Staring out my three windows that face towards the woods, they look different somehow, it carry a sense of mystery in the long limbs reaching for heaven.
Everything about the rest of my day was torture. The inability to bring my thoughts away from my 'deer' and back towards normal life, is starting to get me in trouble. If anyone noticed my far away looks, no one ever comments on it. Not that it truly matters, I am, after all, the spoiled daughter of a rich farmer. Nothing to take note of.
When dinner is finished, I am excused to go to my room. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I am staring out my window again. The sun sets earlier in the evening these days, so I am in almost completely darkness. Standing up abruptly, I make my decision to visit my mystery guest. Stripping out of my layers of clothes, I walk over to my dresser and pull out the pants, and fetch a new light gray shirt. Slipping into them, I pull my riding boots on my feet, and silently creep back to my window. Pressing it open, I stretch my fingers out towards the closest tree branch. Unable to reach it, I slide out the window and stand on the narrow sill, once again I reach for the branch. I feel myself slipping. I manage to keep myself from screaming when I finally lose my balance and plummet towards the ground.
I am not sure how long I lay on the ground, expecting to feel pain. When I role over and sit up and feel none, I sigh in relief. Standing up, I look up at my window critically, of course, my thoughts instantly turn towards all the odd things that have been happening lately. Mysteriously finding the wood, the clothes in the barn, just happening to have everything needed to assist the man, the calm that washes over me when I touch him, my mind is mentally listing everything that has happened over the past couple of days. How is it that this is all good fortune is happening when I need it the most? I wonder.
While I am so concerned about my own problems, I hardly notice a small note fluttering to the ground. I can quite literally feel my jaw dropping. The note falls neatly into my lap. Trembling, I reach out and pick it up. Carefully, I open the paper and read what it has to say. Time to discover yourself Avis. I can feel a chill fall over me. Leaping to my feet, I crumble the note and gab it into my pants. A small gasp manages to make its way out of my mouth when my hand comes into contact with cold metal. Taking a deep gasping breath, I wet my lips and look into the woods frantic for something that would prove I'm not having a psychotic break.
What if he's not real? I ask myself. Horrified, I freeze. No, I tell myself, he's real.
"He has to be real," I whisper. Taking a deep breath, I pull the dagger out of my pocket and stare at it for a few moments. Whoever, or whatever, gave me this knows something that I do not. They know that I will need this weapon in the future. I continue to study it. Then, trembling, I slide it back into my pocket and cautiously approach the forest.
"Alright," I murmur to myself, "there is only one way to know for sure that he exists." I clamp my eyes shut a rush of panic engulfing me. Ever since I was a small child, these woods at night have terrified me. Refusing to peek, I hear the sticks cracking under my feet as I take my first few steps into the forest.
The wind picks up so viciously that my hair feels like thousands of little whips slapping against my cheeks. Howling sounds reach my ears, and before I can stop myself, I am screaming and running as quickly as I possibly can away from the sounds. Crashing blindly through the woods, I fall to the ground so many times that I am sure I will have hundreds of bruises and cuts adorning my arms.
Crackling near me, I release another blood curdling cry and I am thrown to the ground once again. Something that sounds like footsteps approaches me, I am scrambling to my feet and rushing blindly forward. Sending a fleeting glance over my shoulder, I am distracted long enough to throw myself full force into the side of a cave. Falling backward I crack my head against something quite hard. Moans that sound fare away slip from my lips, and for a moment I fear that I will fall unconscious.
I cannot fall asleep, not now! Another rush of panic causes me to push myself into a sitting position. The hairs on the back of my neck raise when I sense something coming towards me. Tears of dread sting in my eyes. Then a hand brushes my shoulder, I scream again and fling myself away from it.
"Avis?" The voice inquires. I nearly burst into tears like a lost child when I hear a familiar voice. Turning my eyes up I can just barely make out the face of my 'injured deer'.
"Y-y-your real," I stutter. He crouches before me and seems to be studying me.
"What where you doing?" He questions, completely ignoring my previous statement.
"I needed to know that you were real," I reply. I can just barely make out a frown on his face. Without a word he stands and offers me his hand, I take it and he pulls me to his feet.
Standing in front of him, I have to crane my neck slightly to look him in the eyes. Abruptly he asks, "Won't your parents be worried about your absence?"
"Ooh," I breath, "I hadn't thought of that." he chuckles lowly. Turning away from me, he begins to walk back towards the cave. Lurching forward, I grab his hand and in a rush explain, "I'm scared of the woods at night."
"I thought that might be you screaming a little while ago," he says then sighs, "I suppose then you won't be going back to your house until morning." He does not sound exasperated but something akin to the simple acceptance of a fact.
When we silently slip inside the cave I am relieved to see a fire blazing near the center. Actually, I'm relieved to be able to see anything. The man releases my hand and walks a few steps before collapsing in a heap on the floor. For a moment I stand frozen, completely stunned, then it hits me, this is probably the most physical activity the man has done since his wounds were inflicted. He's exhausted.
Scrambling forward I drop down next to him and slide my small arms under his bulky one. Using the leverage, I push, or rather drag, him to one of the slanted walls and sit him up.
"Thank you," I murmur, finding that it seems to be the only appropriate thing to say to him.
"Your welcome," he replies, smiling ever so slightly. However, as I gaze at him I notice a pained expression in his eyes. Not the kind of pain that is caused by physical wounds, but the kind caused by mental damage. As I watch him, I find myself slowly leaning forward. Then a question comes to me and is slipping out of my mouth before I have time to stop it.
"Where did you get the scar on your back?" I ask, then cringe and tightly clamp my jaw shut.
His blue-green eyes meet mine for a brief moment, and for that moment I feel as though I am seeming his soul. A soul that is not dark because it wants to be, but one that is dark because it must. I am scared of him, I am scared of what I see in him.
"It was a long time ago," is his simple answer. The scar is obviously not a topic that he wants to discuss, so I take his answer as the only one I will probably ever receive.
His eyes droop shut and he seems to be slipping into oblivion, and I am reminded of all the cuts and bruises that I received on my flight through the woods.
"Wait," I exclaim, causing his eyes to fly open and his body to tense up, as though he was expecting an attack, "I must know, what is your name?"
"Murtagh" he murmurs before slumping once again and closing his eyes. I sit for a long time watching him sleep until I am thoroughly convinced of his being unconscious.
"Murtagh," I find myself saying, "what is it that seems so familiar about your name." Compulsive by nature, I reach forward and brush the black hair of his closed eyes. My mother used to tell me that my compulsiveness was my worst and best characteristic. But as I watch this man sleeping so close to me, I find myself thinking that it must be my best characteristic, after all, it was my compulsive nature that caused me to save his life. Then again, its this compulsiveness that's causing me to make a fool of myself with every word I say to this man. Murtagh.
"I wonder what you think of me," I say to him, truly curious about his thoughts, "do you think me foolish? I wouldn't blame you if you did." As though in answer to my questions he takes a deep breath and lets it out in a long sigh. "Yes, I thought as much."
Excepting the fact that I will have to sleep out here in this cave once again, I gather my cloak around me and lay my head down on my hood. Closing my eyes, I try to convince myself that I am perfectly safe.
Somehow I eventually fell asleep, because I am waking up now. Murtagh is nudging my shoulder.
"Avis," he whispers, "Avis its dawn, you need to return to your home before anyone notices that your gone." Sitting up slowly, I groggily stretch out my sore limbs. I turn and look at my dark haired companion. How does he know my name? I ask myself, he must have heard my mother calling me. I dismiss the entire matter and push myself to my feet.
"Your right," I say when I stand completely up. As I turn and leave I can feel Murtagh watching me again. Studying my every move. Slipping out of the cave I find myself excepting several facts. One, Murtagh is quite dangerous. Two, I do not know if he is a danger to me or to those around us. And three, something is about to happen that will change everything I've ever known.
But somehow, I cannot bring myself to care one bit about any of them.
So this is my new and improved chapter three!!! Yippy! :D. Alrighty then, please review and tell me what you think!