He'd never noticed the difference in their size before. Perhaps that wasn't quite right. He knew he could pick her up as easy as breathing, and he knew he took up far more room in the bed than she, and he knew he had to either stoop down fairly far or hoist her up to kiss her. But she'd never seemed weak, or frail, or fragile compared to him. She'd never seemed small. But when he gently touched the bandage on her neck gently to make sure she hadn't started bleeding again, he was suddenly realized that her neck was tiny compared to his hand, that his forearm was nearly as long as her torso, that she was far smaller than the infirmary cots that he could never fit properly in.
"She'll be fine," Alanna said quietly. "She's healing up well. She'll be weak from the blood loss, and mad as a bear with a burr in it's tail, but she'll be her old self within a fortnight.
Raoul nodded mutely. "Will she wake up soon?"
"Probably, but she may sleep for another day or two yet. It'd be better if she did. She'll heal faster asleep than awake and squawking about wanting to get up and about."
"You're one to talk," Raoul said with a small.
"And so are you," Alanna patted his shoulder then moved on to the next patient in the row.
He'd eventually had to leave her side. Duty called. He was walking back towards the infirmary after conferring with Lord Wyldon about supplies when he heard her yelling and smiled.
He pulled open the door and walked down the orderly row to find Buri shouting at a terrified looking healer to bring her a shirt immediately, and he remembered why she never looked small to him.
"You know for a very small woman, you have a very big voice," he commented mildly, jerking his head at the healer, who happily went running the other direction.
Buri scowled at him, but scooted slightly to the side, making room for him to sit next to her on the cot.
"I'm big enough to take you," she replied.
He laughed and took his seat. "I'm not going to challenge you on that one. I have my pride, and it would be horribly wounded if defeated me in combat in front of my troops."
He kissed her then, gently, careful of the bandages.
"What happened?" she asked quietly.
"You don't remember?"
She shook her head.
"Maggot got his hands on some firebalm. It hit the wall next to you, tossed you off the ramparts and burned you pretty good. You also ended up with a nice chunk of the rampart in your neck and another in your leg. Lost what looked to me like a bucket of blood."
"Why don't I have a shirt on?"
"You had nasty burns on your stomach. Luckily Alanna was right there. She started healing you before the balm had even stopped burning, so the burns weren't as bad as they could have been. You blistered pretty nasty though, so Alanna put some kind of gel on it and then bandaged you. She didn't want a shirt sticking to the burns or the bandages."
"I'm sorry I scared you."
Raoul shook his head. "It's who we are."
Buri opened her mouth, then bit her lip.
"What?" he asked.
"After this war's over, I'm going to step down as Commander of the Riders," she finally said.
He looked at her, startled.
"I'm not going to stop fighting. I'll be like Thayet, going out some now and then, but this way I can go out when I want and where I want, and I can go out with the Own rather than the Riders if I want to."
He smiled, amused by all that she hadn't said. "Is this the part where I ask you to marry me?"
"I believe that's expected," she replied. "We should probably check with our friends who actually know about all this nonsense to be sure though."
He kissed her then. He probably should have said something about how much this meant to him, about how much he loved her, about how scared he was when he'd seen that explosion, about how it was the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life to turn forward again and continue his battle on the other side of the walls, thinking that she was dead or dying behind him, but that wasn't their way.
Review! Let me know if you want more B/R-ness. For those of you reading Zenobia, I'm working on an update now and should have one before the new year. I'm also mostly done with a Rosto/Beka chapter, so that may go up first.