A/N: Thanks for the reviews, and thanks 'really' for pointing out to me about the anonymous reviewing being turned off. I've rectified that feature. Also, yes, this story will be a multi-chaptered one. I pretty much plunged into writing the story in extreme excitement and will now have to sit down and think of how my next chapter will turn out. Also, some parts of the conversations were taken from the actual LOTM script. Have a good day you all. :)
He was snatching pieces of their conversations, his mind not allowing itself to rest from the yet unseen and demanding journey ahead of them.
"Duncan, you are absolutely gallant. If Cora doesn't marry you, I shall."
Heyward laughed, and Uncas had to smile at the elder Munro's horrified protest, knowing somehow that Alice Munro had as much wit and fire as her sister did should she wish to show it.
"I can't wait to see papa," she had continued after awhile, sounding slightly out of breath as Heyward gave her an arm of assistance as they climbed up a steep forested slope.
"And you, Duncan? What are you looking forward to?" Cora was asking.
"Posting to a different continent."
It was the first time he heard her laughter then – light and magical, a true lady's laugh right in the middle of a thrumming forest, with his heart and breaths quickening at such a delightful sound.
And he wanted to hear more of it.
Uncas watched then, as annoyance rippled through Cora Munro, and she regarded both her sister and Duncan with a decidedly sombre face.
"I think it's very important and exciting," she replied before marching closer to Nathaniel.
The conversation dwindled after that, with Heyward making the most of the idle chatter, inducing soft but growing annoyed responses of Alice.
A man who certainly cannot appreciate the silence, Uncas decided of the dishevelled redcoat, a polar opposite of the soft-spoken lady who in the end, obviously preferred solitude than redundant talk.
Up ahead, Uncas' attention was taken over by his brother, who was beckoning to him.
"What do you think?" Heyward's voice now swam into his ears, and Uncas blinked, not realising that he was being spoken to. Beside the solider, the youngest Munro was now gazing at him in silent but open curiosity – a look that Uncas realised was anticipation not in answer to Heyward's question, but rather, to the path he would next lead them on.
Her eyes, mirrors to a yet untainted soul said it all, the young face which begged for worldly knowledge and safe-keeping, and beyond the veil of his stoic countenance but powerful emotions, Uncas was entranced, lost in a frightening bottle of innocence where an iron hand was curling in malice around them, slowly crushing their glass cage to pieces.
And now, she was still staring, and he found it hard to believe that it was those same soulful eyes that stared back at him not too long ago in fright and despair.
What would you have me say? Uncas thought, not breaking his gaze from hers.
"Well?" Heyward now demanded, and Uncas lifted carefully silted eyes that conveyed his absolute disinterest.
"I think you talk too much," he answered as he walked past them, hearing the barely restrained squawks of a high-ranking soldier obviously not used to being insulted or called upon.
Beside Heyward, Alice Munro had turned her head to the side, trying valiantly to conceal a smile that was threatening to bloom across her pretty face as she looked upon the vast forested land in front of her.
And it was only when his back was fully turned towards the British soldier did Uncas allow a slow and satisfied smile to stretch across his face.
It wasn't her dream that woke her, but the nearby quiet clicking of a musket.
She had blinked, wriggling slightly from where she was asleep just moments earlier, her heart starting its uneasy rhythm once more. From a father who stood proud and accomplished as a soldier, to Duncan, also a soldier who harboured equal pride and noble strength, Alice Munro had learnt and heard enough to recognise when a gun was being set into place and a target was to meet its bloody end.
"Cora?" she whispered, her arm reaching out and seeking her sister's comforting hand.
But Cora was not there.
And that was when she felt it – where the hairs at the back of her neck stood on end, the air chilling her spine and freezing her blood in knowing, just knowing of the danger that was lying so very near of them, its presence tasting sour and portentous.
She rolled onto her belly, shaky elbows digging deep into the moist earth and inched perilously upwards where the wild blades of grass served as their last form of cover.
There she found her sister, crouched beside Hawkeye, two dark heads turned towards their seemingly impending doom, guns clutched firmly in their hands.
The brave one, Alice thought. There were no sides to choose when it came to bravery, for when it came to stout hearts and passion-filled actions, it was Cora Munro who earned the affections of most men.
"I do not resent you," Alice had told her sister once, for who could begrudge a personality – an instinct that was inborn in a person from its stages of infancy? "But I would like to be more like you."
Alice blinked as a heavily painted face, streaked menacingly in angry colours gleamed sinisterly in the distance, its bulky form an eerie sight under pale moonlight. And she realised that her scream, which she so valiantly swallowed had now transformed into gasps which could very well spell the end for them all.
"I am sorry I left your side," Cora whispered not long after their threat retreated back into the shadows and she returned from Hawkeye's side, placing a warm hand on her sister's shoulder.
"Alice, what's wrong?" she asked, noticing her sister's wetly shining eyes under gleam and rustling leaves.
"Nothing," Alice said softly and smiled. "I was dreaming, before I woke."
"What did you dream?" Cora sounded genuinely curious.
"Hercules," she whispered, and Cora smiled.
"Papa always did love that cat."
"Do you remember when I first brought him home? Papa was furious."
"It was probably because of your sodden state that he was worried about," Cora interjected, laughter crinkling the edges of her eyes as she folded an arm under her head and they remembered lovelier times back in England.
She was 13 when she brought home a kitten from her wayward stroll, the both of them wet and shivering from the winter rains.
Her father was none too pleased to see a drenched animal held in the arms of an even more drenched girl, the two sodden beings dripping water in a most unceremonious manner on the expensive carpeting.
But then Cora came into the picture, and together the Munro sisters had launched into persistent bouts of pleading towards their father who was determined to be unrelenting in keeping another pet in their household.
"Please papa, let us keep him!" Cora implored.
"We'll take good care of him!" Alice chimed.
"And just how responsible do you think you both will be?" Colonel Munro had questioned from where he sat, arms folded and polished boots crossed at the ankles.
"Extremely, papa!" Alice assured.
Then there was a small mew, and all three heads had swivelled to the door where a white feline was making its entrance. Alice had watched, remembering her father's gaze turn from skeptical to tender, and then to fondness as the kitten rubbed its tiny head against his boots, as if pleading in supreme supplication to be loved and cared for...
"I'll never forgive him for scratching my dress, though," Alice now said in an afterthought, only to be met by silence, and smiled fondly at the sleeping face of her sister.
She worries too much for me, Alice thought under shame-filled lids, knowing that her feeble state had cost precious extra strain and anxiety on Cora's part.
"Goodnight dear sister," she whispered, remembering now not of Hercules but of a certain Indian warrior whose imprint had seared itself into her soul, where his earlier saving grab – lightning fast and instinctual, had opened a new dimension of womanly wonder and desire, knowing that it was altogether foreign and perhaps wrong, but not uninvited.
Uncas, as her mind kept drawing back to, who lay sleeping just a short distance away, a shining pride of his father and father's fathers before that. Uncas, a man of his own self – fearless and loyal as a brother, obedient and devoted as a son.
Uncas, who laid on his back, lithe body stretched out and eyes hooded, hearing every word the youngest Munro had told her sister, and remembering every touch that churned deep within his core.