Will stepped into his room in Halt's small cottage, and was overwhelmed by a wave of relief. After a year in Skandia, he could barely remember the little house that He and Halt lived in.
Will gently set down his bow and knives on the floor by his nightstand and sat on the bed, lost in thought.
After a few minutes, Halt peeked in the door, leaning against the frame, silent as ever.
Will seemed different to him, more thoughtful and quiet, he supposed that it had to do with the weed he had been addicted to.
Some foolish hope inside Halt had thought that when Will came home he would be his usual happy bouncing self. Now Will was looking at his hands, hard and calloused from all the heavy yard work he had done. Then he stared out of the window. Not the same as before.
Halt cleared his throat, making his presence known.
"If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask" Will nodded, then looked back at his hands. Halt sighed and left.
A while later, Halt was doing some kitchen cleaning when Will came out of his room.
"Can you do some training with me?" Will asked quietly, looking at the grizzled ranger with dark eyes.
Halt looked skeptically at Will.
"Only been home a couple of hours and you already want to train?" Will nodded in reply.
"Oh alright, I'll get my things" Halt said, grabbing his longbow and knife belt from the corner.
They did some knife and sword work drills, and then as it began to get dark, Will practiced his archery.
He picked up his bow, glad to feel the strong wood under his hands again. He strung it, and then made sure the bow was in good condition, it was perfect.
Will started to pull back the string, barely aware that Halt was watching him. He was about to let the arrow fly when a pain erupted in the arm pulling back the string. Will fell to the ground, groaning in agony as the pain arced across his shoulder and back.
Halt was by his side in a minute, and then will felt he was being helped to his feet. Will leaned on halt gratefully, they took baby steps until they were in the kitchen and the agonized boy had sunk gratefully into a chair.
"Alright, let's have a look" Halt said, moving to Will's side.
"No" the boy replied with a bitter tone. Already the pain was starting to go away.
Halt gave will one of his famous "don't mess with me, I'm doing it and you can't stop me" looks. Will realized he had lost, and yanked up his shirt. There was a huge scar running diagonally across will's back, with a bunch of tiny scars all over.
Halt observed his apprentice's wounds for a moment, then circled around in front of Will, sitting down in another chair.
"I think you should tell me how you got that" The older Ranger said in a deadly voice.
Will groaned and put his head in his hands. When he looked back up, his eyes were red.
"When Evanlyn and I escaped, a Skandian caught us. He recognized Evanlyn and threw his sword at her, to fulfill Ragnak's blood oath"
Halt nodded, motioning for him to go on.
"I stepped in front of her, and it hit my back"
"Why didn't you tell me?" Halt said quietly, giving his apprentice a hard stare.
"Because I don't have to tell you everything!" Will yelled, leaping up and running to his room, slamming the door behind him.
Halt stood up and sighed. He leaned against the fireplace, staring into the flames. Will had been affected more than he had originally thought... Maybe with time he would come back to his original self.
Will didn't come to dinner, and Halt didn't hear any sort of noise from his room until later in the evening, when the quiet was shattered by a yell.
Halt was opening the door to Will's room in one quick movement, faster than even the quickest ranger.
Will was sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands, shoulders shaking slightly. Halt gently sat to his apprentice.
"Bad dream?" The boy nodded, hiding his face from Halt's view.
"Tell me?" the older man asked, patting Will's shoulder. Will took a shaky breath.
"I-I was back in Skandia, and the sword was coming towards Evanlyn... I tried to move, but I couldn't stop it, and then Horace appeared, saying the you hated me, and I had killed Evanlyn with my own stupidity, I-I just" He broke off in sobs again.
Halt put his arm around the frail boy's shoulders, surprised at how skinny he was.
"Don't worry Will, Evanlyn's just fine, we can see her, Gilan, and Horace tomorrow, now get some rest" Will nodded, too exhausted to protest.
Halt stood and walked out of the room, pausing at the doorway, turning back to look at his apprentice.
"I would never hate you will" he said, turning back to leave. Then he popped his head in again.
"Unless, of course, you stole my cheese"
And for the first time in almost a year, Will's face broke out in a huge smile.