Love is a Battlefield. By Ena

The door closed behind Aubrey, George turned to Sophie and Caroline and announced that they should move the largest of the boxes first. That way the others would be easier to store as they would be orientated around the largest one. Caroline's eyes flickered towards the grimy, dirt covered windows and watched as Aubrey strode off towards the food stores.

'He's going to play hero.' she announced as soon as he was out of sight.

'Of course he is,' George replied lightly. 'It's not the first time he's taken a decidedly blasé stroll away, only to get himself into mischief. There was this one time at Stonelea-"

Caroline cut him off by holding up her hand. 'We can hear stories about all the assorted things you and Aubrey got up to later. Time is of the essence here, we need to go after him, and we need to do it now.'

George and Sophie exchanged a look, before Sophie turned to Caroline. 'I will go with you,' she announced. 'George can stay here and put this room back orderly and we can see where Aubrey is heading.'

Caroline nodded, and lead the way.

[0]

They were redirected by the food master to the entrance to the front trenches. A sense of dread began to grow in the pit of Caroline's stomach as they made their way through the front trenches, asking all they came across if they'd seen him.

At last they came across Captain Robinson, the sentry on night duty. After a few moments of Sophie batting her eyelids and Caroline making it clear that if they didn't tell them which direction Aubrey had gone, he would be receiving a quick and painful kick to the shins, Robinson admitted with a point of his finger in which direction Aubrey had headed.

The sense of dread only grew when Caroline really understood where Robinson was pointing. Out towards No Man's Land.

'Oh, Aubrey,' she whispered in horror. 'What are you doing?'

A painful grip on her arm brought her back to the present, Sophie gripped her arm even tighter and pulled Caroline around to face her.

'Caroline,' she said quietly. 'Whatever happens, whatever Aubrey planned, he may have not thought it through.' Sophie's eyes were wide in the dim light, but the urgency shone through.

Turning towards the sentry Caroline asked for him to prep her to go up and over. Ignoring the wide eyes of both Sophie and Robinson, she quickly applied the burnt cork to her face and neck. After strapping a helmet on she asked what the sentry had in the way of weapons.

He was unable to provide anything smaller than a Mark V revolver, a weapon that was a little too bulky to conceal, despite her ability to hide an assortment of lethal implements about her person. She accepted the pistol, but aside from that, her mother-of-pearl handled knife would have to suffice.

[0]

After giving Sophie a quick hug, and some directions and password from Robinson, Caroline hoisted herself over the lip of the trench. Immediately alert for anyone who could be aiming at her, she slid forward on her stomach before weaving through the copious amounts of barbed wire.

A smashed ammunition box provided a few moments of cover as her eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Flickers of shadows hinted at raiders and scroungers in the dark.

Aubrey wanted to bring the Holmland War Council to the heart of the action, and when Aubrey had said that, he had meant it on both levels. Instead of blindly allowing the Albionish forces to murder the politicians and generals, Aubrey was going to magic them into the battle field, but let them live.

Although Caroline never undertook magical studies, save for a small stint at Willsmere school, but she knew enough magical theory to understand why Aubrey needed to go out into the middle of a war zone. He was the beacon.

If Aubrey had been able to find a way to magic the Holmlanders to Freemont without having to endanger himself in the process, Caroline was sure he would have take that option. However the complexity of the spell was going to exhausting enough without adding the extra component of coordinates away from the spell caster. Something to do with the Law of Displacement she guessed.

Nevertheless, Aubrey had probably forgotten something, and it would be Caroline's duty to ensure that whenever that problem reared it's ugly head, she would be there to set it right.

[0]

A few minutes of flitting between shadows and suddenly Aubrey's back came into view. Despite the sobriety of the moment, Caroline took a few seconds to appreciate that, despite a back being little more than a spinal cord, shoulder blades, many ribs and a variety of muscles, tendons and nerves, Aubrey had a good looking back.

It wasn't just that she was appreciating him for his looks, but it was as much as she could currently see of him, crouched as he was behind a wall of thrown up dirt.

Oh, no, she liked him far more for his personality. The handsome looks were merely a bonus.

Chiding herself for being distracted at such a time, Caroline inched her way forward, before halting as a raider no more than twenty yards away was opening what appeared to be a canister.

Scores of horses and their riders were suddenly sucked into existence from the canister's opening. The lifelike illusions were enough to make Caroline duck back into the shadows and curl herself into as small a ball as possible, just in case.

The phantom began their journey towards the Albionish trenches, and Caroline decided that now was as good a time as any to catch up to Aubrey.

He was still where she had spotted him, he head frantically turning as he did his best to spot the enemy. He turned away from her as she reached him, his right hand inching towards his gun.

She knelt without a sound next to him, knife drawn and her temper suddenly very calm. Pressing the blade to his throat she whispered 'It would be a very bad idea to move, except to take your hand away from your pistol. Turn slowly.'

Caroline then found out how Aubrey reacted under duress. A rather delightful reaction she thought.