Alice walked wiry from the bedroom, the remnants of sleep still clinging to her eyes.
Duncan's voice had woken her, and with one glance at the situation Alice realized she was imposing and fled her shared room.
She wandered with no purpose. No one needed her, no one wanted her, she could do nothing, she could help no one.
Yet these realizations were not a bother to her.
She'd always know that she was useless to everyone.
She walked until she could hear not a faint whisper of another human's voice. Her body ached, her mind raced, and her heart twinged with grief.
Alice stepped into a narrow hallway that was so dark, Alice was sure not even god could see her here. She pressed her back against the dark wall and slide down, ignoring the way her dress rode up showing her bruised legs.
This was the end of her world.
Fire and bombs filled the air, and Alice could not believe that she longed for the peace of the woods. While taking the long journey by foot to this fort, Alice had spent the whole time dreaming of this place. And now…..now not a single thing about it was a dream.
Hot tears streamed down her cheeks, she made no attempt to clean her face of them. Instead a low moan escaped from her chest and soon, the only sound that filled that dark hallway was her own sobs.
He knows she's there before she even looks up, and when she does his heart breaks.
Her pale face is covered with tears, and her eyes are swollen and red, and Uncas wants nothing more than to hold her.
He steps out of the darkness, ignoring his desire to know what she was doing in his hidden away sanctuary.
Uncas walked toward her, their eyes locked and he watched as tears continuously fell, but she cared less now that he was there. He sat cross legged next to her, careful not to allow his bare legs to brush against hers.
Alice wanted to be ashamed of herself.
She wanted to stand up, wipe away her tears and leave him sitting in this horrible dark place.
Instead, Alice did what she had wanted to do for days.
She sought comfort in him.
She forgot modesty, threw away humility and turned to her Native guide and buried her head into his chest.
Uncas allowed surprise to control him for all of a moment, then did whatever fiber of his being begged him too. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her onto his lap.
He tugged her so tight in his arms that he wondered briefly if he was hurting her, but when she circled her arms around his neck and continued crying, Uncase decided it wasn't close enough yet.
Uncas let his head fall back to the wall, allowing Alice more room to hide her face from the world. He felt wave after wave of tears and sobs fall against his skin.
When Alice opened her eyes and found she had fallen asleep against Uncas, embarrassment flooded her body and mind. But the realization that she was on his lap, bare legs toughing was far worse than falling asleep on him, and it took every bit of control Alice had over herself not to jump and flee.
Instead she pulled back and looked at him.
He looked down at her, and in that second that had an eternity.
I'm here to protect you his eyes promised.
Alice slowly pulled her arms from around his neck, ignoring the lack of feeling that hours being in the same position had given her. Instead of moving away, Alice tucked her arms toward her chest and rested back on him.
"We're going to die here aren't we?" she whispered.
It was a fear she had ever since Boston. She was going to die in this place, she was going to die and never have even lived.
"We- Iwon't let that happen." Uncas promised.
Alice nodded, but Uncase could feel her disbelief.
Uncas lifted his hand to stroke a strand of hair from her face, but when his fingers touched her soft golden locks, his fingers captured a few locks and without any hesitation he creates a bright braid that streams down her hair.
Alice watched in surprise as dark fingers weave between her hair.
She opened her mouth to protest, but he was already done.
"Alice?" Cora's voice rang faintly in the distance.
Uncas carefully removed Alice from his lap and helped her stand.
She looked at him, not sure if she should thank him or beg him not to share this experience with anyone.
Shame mixed with gratitude, and she could do nothing more than stare at him.
He smiled at her, understanding her with the assistances of words.
The brave young Native who had risked his life for her, who had held her while she slept, and who had devoted himself to her with a simple braid, did only one thing in way of a goodbye.
While pale and dark eyes locked, a rough dark hand lifted a golden, sweet braid and pressed it to his lips.
Uncas let the aroma of her hair soak into his lips, his eyes giving light to his true feelings.
And then he was gone.
Cora's candle filled the darkness with light, and the sisters were reunited. "Alice, there you are!"
Alice was never more disappointed in the light, he was gone, and she was forced to pretend again.
Cora lead her back to the shared room, and when Alice walked in and saw her reflection in a hand mirror, the braid shone brightly.
Alice slept that night, and when she closed her eyes, she knew she would never be alone again.