An Alice&Uncas Story
Disclaimer- I don't own any of this!
The survivors of the slaughter huddled together at the edge of the forest as dawn broke overhead- Chingachgook, his two sons and the Munro sisters.
Uncas lay dazed, his breathing shallow, his gaze bright and feverish. Many thoughts raced through the Mohican youth's mind, images he had long forgotten. The heart never forgets, he thought numbly, beginning to shiver. His father shared a worried look with Nathaniel.
Never…, thought Chingachgook, never shall I forget the image of my son at the cliffs, almost losing him… He turned unsettling eyes toward the slender white girl with hair the color of the moon, the cause of Uncas' mad flight up that mountainside.
His eyes flicked to her wrists, rubbed raw and bloody by Magua's ropes. Her bloodied hands gently adjusted her pale, pink skirts, and she inched closer to Uncas, her blonde hair lank, her skin pale and luminous. Her blue eyes looked very large as she gazed down at his youngest son, solemn and unblinking.
Uncas muttered again and turned restlessly in a delirium of fever. His deep wounds were constantly cleaned and disinfected, the bandages changed.
They could do nothing, however, to lower the fever that raged within him. Chingachgook observed it all, calm and stoic. He saw his white son's agitation, the dark haired girl wringing her hands, the gold one gazing down in uninterrupted silence.
But no. Chingachgook would not give in to despair and hopelessness. Death had always been a common fixture in his life, claiming his family and wife while he was still quite young.
Death would not claim his son.
Death was treacherous in the way that it offered no excuses, no apologies, and plucked those whose time had come- be it a brave father who smiled tenderly upon a sleeping son, a beautiful wife with coal black hair and laughing eyes… Chingachgook knew the secrets of time and nature.
Death was looming but not present.
As Uncas turned, Chingachgook caught sight of a pale, slender hand hovering over his son's face. Nathaniel, sitting with Cora in his arms, blinked blearily at the sight of Alice's hand. They all watched silently as Alice lowered her hand gently onto Uncas' brow with a concentrated look on her face.
Chingachgook thought perhaps her hand would be too icy and clammy, and he shifted uncomfortably. Uncas opened his eyes a crack and smiled into the Moon Girl's eyes. Alice returned his smile and held his gaze until his eyes drooped shut, with heavy, even breathing.
The fever would still be present, Chingachgook decided, observing the sticky sheen of perspiration over his son. But now, at the touch of a white girl, barely 18 winters of age, he slumbered peacefully.
As Chingachgook's eyes met the resolute gaze of Alice Munro, odd thoughts began to swirl through him. He met her gaze as if it were the first time he was seeing her… which, in a way, it was.
Uncas was lost in the spectrum between light and dark. There was an odd sensation of floating and his fevered mind somehow made the connection. How could he float, if he were on solid ground?
Unless I am dying.
Uncas felt no terror. None.
Death was father to sleep, after all. All he felt were regrets, all the hidden regrets of his life he had tried so valiantly to keep at bay. What good were unfulfilled desires, anguish, and regrets to a man? They were useless emotions, he had decided long ago…
But alas, ghostly faces swam unbidden before Uncas. He saw his mother's beautiful, cheerful face. Her dark eyes that always seemed to smile.
His childhood best friend, Keesog. As children, one fateful day, they excitedly agreed to meet near the top of a tall hill. Keesog told a 10 year old Uncas a story he heard from passing traders, that there at the top lay the remains and treasures of long since dead Yengeese soldiers.
Instead of meeting up with his friend, Uncas promptly forgot and accompanied his Father and brother on a fishing trip. Upon returning, they were greeted with the news- young Keesog somehow fell down a ravine in the hill, cracking his head wide open and bleeding to death on the dusty grounds of the hill.
Uncas fell into shock. Only that morning had he seen his faithful friend. With his wide, toothy grin, eyes aglow with anticipation and delight at the prospect of bones, treasure and glory.
"I don't believe it! Someone has made up this lie!" he shouted before darting through his Father's arms and into the awaiting darkness.
Keesog's face smiled down at him. No killing wound, no terror, and smiling reassuringly at his old comrade.
He would have made a good warrior… thought Uncas in his daze.
Uncas saw acquaintances and past lovers pass before him in an array of colorful silence, when suddenly, something darted out at him. A flash of color… pink fabric.
He squinted, remembering. Pink fabric; long, tapered fingers, blonde hair and hauntingly beautiful blue eyes. Blue eyes as wide as the prairie sky.
He opened his eyes and gave a ghost of a smile to the pretty blonde kneeling before him, the girl who had captured his heart. His eyes drooped and he slept.
Alice watched Uncas slumber and knew her heart was his.
She glanced around the firelight. Nathaniel and her sister Cora sat together, whispering, and she realized with a start that Chingachgook was watching her, the fire reflecting in his dark eyes. She licked her cracked lips and plucked a question out of nothingness to mask her awkwardness.
"Where do we go now?" she asked, her voice cracking like dead leaves in her throat.
"We head west," he said after a beat. "Away from the warring French and British."
"You will go to Can-tuck-ee?" she asked, having heard this phrase from Uncas.
"Yes." He paused, and then, "and yourself, Moon Girl?"
Cora suddenly swiveled around, her eyes flashing dangerously in the near darkness.
"What could you possibly mean?" she asked brusquely. "My sister and I will stay together. She will accompany us to Can-tuck-ee."
"Alice is a grown woman," Nathaniel murmured gently to Cora. "Although it would please me greatly for her to join us, the choice is hers of whether or not to return to London or stay here."
"How could you say such a thing?" the dark haired Munro sister whispered fiercely.
"Alice and I have no relations in England. She will be alone! The King can bloody hang for all I care. Our home will be here! What is more, she is not grown as of yet."
Her eyes turned to her sister. "Alice, you are…you are…" She thought hard, trying to remember. "You are 16 this year? Is it not so?"
Alice felt deeply wounded, but only for a moment. She could never bring herself to stay upset for long. Truly, Cora was not to fault. Her family had not once celebrated her birthday. Their mother died giving birth to Alice. What was there to celebrate?
Alice cleared her throat delicately.
"I am 18," she answered back quietly.
Cora stared. "But you said… I thought…."
"You are four years older than I am," Alice reminded her sister.
Cora flushed and was still for a second. "Forgive me, sister," she said quietly. "'Tis horrid of me. What manner of sister am I, forgetting your age?"
Alice smiled gently, yet tiredly. "A sister that is far too preoccupied with matters of greater importance. There is nothing to forgive."
Nathaniel smiled at Alice warmly. He liked her sweetness.
"Or perhaps," murmured Cora. "A sister who still sees you as a little girl."
They grinned at each other across the flickering firelight, caught up in memories of the past. A fierce-eyed little girl with voluminous dark curls, possessively clutching the hand of a tiny blonde child… A blonde girl, staring up at her older, wiser sister with hope and trust….
Cora gave a throaty laugh that echoes past the trees and beyond.
"It is little wonder… when I heard news of your engagement to Jeremy Forsythe, while I was in Dorchester, I wrote our Father an angry letter asking why he would marry you off at such a young age. He was so bewildered! 'Younger than her have wives been made,' was his reply!" Cora chuckled on, blithely unaware that Alice's mood had come down a notch.
"You were engaged, Ms. Alice?" Nathaniel asked with interest.
Alice nodded shortly. Nathaniel noticed the guarded expression on her face and so let the matter drop. Besides, he had never been too keen on asking questions.
But still, he wondered what the story was.
Daybreak dawned crisp and warm. The travelers had survived their first night.
Uncas' fever had broken just before dawn to the overwhelming relief of all those present. The fact remained, however, that he was still too weak to be moved.
The men began to converse in their language and while Cora used her medical experience to tend to Uncas, Alice made herself useful by walking the short distance to a rushing stream to wash Uncas' bandages. She sat down by the stream and proceeded to scrub vigorously, watching the sun arise as if from bitter ashes to turn the world pink and orange.
Alice couldn't believe that she and her sister had survived. Uncas running up by himself no less, to save her, an English girl whom he had known for only a short span of time.
Time, among other things, is a very deceptive matter, thought Alice primly. Uncas had almost died on those cliffs at the sharp receiving end of a dagger, until his father and brother arrived and in just the nick of time, too, to finish off Magua and his Huron braves.
Afterwards, the stunned and bloodied group stumbled down the mountaintop and did what they could for Uncas. They worried over Uncas' broken arm and what to bind it with until Alice had a brain wave- their corsets!
They were frightfully tight little buggers, made of some kind of bone, no less, and judging from the bruises Alice had amassed since the age of 13, merely from sporting said garment, well… Her hunch paid off. The girls handed over their loathed corsets, which were stripped of their frilly laces and were used to bind Uncas' broken bones.
"I can't believe you gals had to wear this!" Nathaniel exclaimed, appalled, but laughing in a moment of amusement before Uncas began to shudder as fever set in.
Alice's smile turned pensive as she scrubbed harder.
Merely his name sent that odd shiver down the small of her back. What to make of it all? She had never been in love… Not even with Jeremy. She thought with a sigh, but banished that train of thought lest she felt anew the sick feeling of humiliation.
Uncas, whose gaze kept flicking towards her after Magua's first attack and their introduction, did not at all fit in for what she thought was a red man. There was nothing vile or savage about him. He was tall, strong, and unbearably handsome. His hue, not red as she had thought, but a warm brown not unlike that of sailors and those who labored outdoors.
Uncas, whose dark eyes stared at her hungrily at the besieged fort after their private meeting outside.
Alice's hands shook and she heaved a shuddering breath. She sat down at the bank of the stream, remembering.
The boom of French Cannon was suppose to somehow lull her to sleep, she thought disparagingly as she wandered through the winding halls of the fort, the air thick with the moans of the wounded and dying.
She gave a gasp of breath. She had no stomach for this misery, and with that, stepped outside, instantly feeling better. She walked around the encampment and saw, to her shock, whole families, wives clutching wounded husbands, young people making the best of a horrible situation and, refusing to sink to despair, whirling in dances as drums, flutes and fiddles rent the air. A powerful testament to the resilient power of youth.
It was odd to her eyes. The English were known for their remarkable restraint and these Americans chose to latch onto happiness at least for one more night. Are they foolish? She wondered. Or are they brave?
She shook off her muddled thoughts and quickened her pace. What use was bravery when one was dead?
A tingling in the back of her neck told her she was being watched. She looked to the right and propped there with a rifle was the young Mohican, Uncas. He gave her a small smile and nodded at being recognized, utterly unembarrassed at being caught ogling her.
Alice gave a small sniff. But really, he frightened her. His constant gaze was unsettling, especially the way it caused that damned shiver to course through her.
"Good evening, sir," Alice said warily as Uncas slowly approached her.
A particularly loud boom from the cannons caused her to scream and pivot around so much so that she stumbled. Uncas had not even flinched at the sound as he observed her himself, his dark eyes keen.
"Evening, miss," he replied. "Enjoying the scenery?"
He was teasing her, and she did not enjoy it one whit. So what if she was skittish?
"No." She tilted her chin up. "I was helping in the infirmary."
"I know," he said, and stood quietly once more, observing her until she began to fidget.
"I beg your pardon, sir," She said in clipped tones. "But as I rather enjoy my life, I do not feel the need to stand so close to the cannons." And with that, she began to walk away. She heard footsteps beside her and stopped and turned.
It was Uncas again.
He smiled. "Let me walk with you, Miss. For your safety."
She gave him a blank look, and so he tried again.
"Please?" She didn't think he was begging. He really was concerned.
"All right…" She replied.
They walked for five minutes in silence, and Alice began to feel more and more awkward. So she stopped in the darkness near her father's quarters.
"Thank you, sir. You are a credit to us all," Alice said very properly, turning to leave.
"Uncas," said his deep voice, smooth as honey. "That is my name."
Alice looked startled. "Very well," she conceded slowly. "Have you not a surname?"
Uncas ginned slowly and chuckled at her. He was laughing at her! The nerve! He shook his head.
"Well, 'Just Uncas'," she replied, miffed. "This is all very interesting, but you will call me Miss Alice."
She sounded very, very British.
"Agreed, Miss Alice."
She nodded and turned yet again to leave, but his voice caught her in a grip.
"I think you are very beautiful, Miss Alice. Also brave."
Alice turned slowly. Did she hear correctly? Brave? Beautiful? She knew she was pretty, but she never regarded herself as beautiful. That was Cora; bold, brave, and beautiful.
A feeling arose in her chest and she gazed up at him, trying to untangle it all. Why could she not breathe when he looked at her in that manner? Her thoughts seemed turned to mush and she did the one thing that seemed to make sense.
She leaned in and kissed him.
He kissed her back with an aching sweetness and used his fingertips to bring her closer. The kiss lasted almost a minute. She felt as if a tiny, white, hot fire broke out under her skin and she stopped, gasping for breath.
Had he felt it?
His dark eyes seemed even darker, and it sent a thrill of warmth spiraling into her belly. They stared at each other for a full ten seconds before leaning back.
Alice felt frozen.
"Goodnight," she whispered.
"Goodnight," he responded in kind. They both slowly turned and walked into opposite ends of the night.
Alice shook herself to stop daydreaming. She doubted many women in London could say they experienced something this taboo, this forbidden… lust for a savage man.
Well, she had decided long before this moment that Uncas was no savage. Uncas saved her life and Uncas had breathed a new life into her, even with the death of her father and friend, Duncan.
Picking up the soaked bandages, Alice trudged back up the hill to her sister and Uncas.