Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.
Alice was waiting. Waiting for that moment of absolute certainty that she always knew would come when she was utterly alone.
She was laying on her side on a bed in her father's quarters, Cora was behind her tearing rags to be used for bandages in the surgery. Alice and Cora had hardly spoken since they had arrived at the fort their father was posted at. This was nothing new to Alice; she had a feeling that her older sister never knew what to make of her. Alice was quiet, shy, hesitent. Cora was bold and would more often then not act on her whims. Alice would wait.
Alice was waiting now as she dozed in her father's quarters. She knew that eventually, Uncas and his father and brother would leave the fort. They had done as they had promised. The three men had escorted the two sisters and Duncan to the fort, and now they could go. Only...only Alice didn't want him to go. She wasn't quite what it was, but Uncas had caused something to stir in her heart. He had affected her like no other man had. Not even men like Duncan, English gentlemen she had known all her life. On the journey to the fort he had protected her, had seen to her as not even Duncan or her sister ever had. As if, for the first time in her 18 years, someone had actually seen her. Alice bit her lip. She willed herself to not shed the silent tears that welled up behind her eyes. Behind her, she heard the door open and Duncan had burst in.
"Cora! I wanted to talk to you..."
Alice could here Cora shush him, knowing that her sister needed to rest. Alice rose and turned to leave. She didn't want to hear the endless round of arguing that she knew would happen between Cora and Duncan.
"Talk to Duncan Cora. I must manage. I cannot be an invalid schoolgirl."
"Alice..." Cora started.
"I'll see if Mr Phelps needs anything." Alice kept her eyes on the floor as she said the first thing in her mind. The tears were threatening anyway. She closed the door behind her and slumped. She knew there was nothing she could do for Mr Phelps. Nothing helpful anyway. Her frailer constitution had always prevented her. Alice simply walked away, not knowing where she would go. All she knew was that she would wait. As she always had.
On the other side of the fort, Uncas was scanning the darkened shoreline and surrounding mountains. His brother was in some half lit corner talking to their shared friends amongst the colonial militia. His father was...somewhere. Talking and smoking with some of the Mohawks for all he knew. There was nothing for him to do and he was vaguely annoyed by it. He had thought to find Alice but he knew there was no real reason for him to be with her. She was with her father now, she didn't really need him now, he knew it. But he wanted to stay. Needed to if he were to be honest with himself. And with his father too. Uncas knew his father preferred that he find some Delaware girl to make a family with. He had intended to do so, it had been expected of him for as long as he could remember. But that was before Alice, before he found someone who made him feel whole.
Nathaniel joined him on the rampart and checked himself. Uncas was the steadier of the two, never one to wear his emotions so obviously on his face. It was new for him, to finally see his brother in a state of disquiet. He knew it was because of Alice, her sister put him in the same state. It was odd to know his brother's mind so easily. And it made him smirk knowing he was finally in a position to tell him what to do. Nathaniel might have been older, but it was Uncas who always seemed to be the older brother.
"Don't make her any promises you know you may not keep." Nathaniel hadn't even looked away from the French lines below them. Uncas stared at him.
"Father wouldn't understand. For you to choose one of them, it would only serve to make him angry. Me, he doesn't mind so much, since I'm one of them by birth."
Nathaniel was only pointing out the obvious. It made Uncas even more annoyed. He said nothing, only stood and walked away.
Alice had found a small corner, not far from the campfires that the colonial women had made. It was awkward to speak to them. Alice was raised to know her place. She knew that in England, these women would be on a level with servants and she would have been their superior. But here none of that seemed to matter, but still. The social conventions she had been raised with kept her from interacting with them as equals. Instead, she made herself unnoticable in a shadowy corner and watched as the other women laughed and flirted with the men. Someone at one of the fires had a fiddle and had started playing. Oh, how she missed dancing!
Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and she jumped, frightened. Then she smiled. It was Uncas. He crouched beside her, smoothing stray strands of her golden hair away from her face. It was a very intimate touch, but Alice did not move, nor did she make any attempt to make him stop. She relaxed and let him touch her hair, and brush his fingers against her face.
"I though you might have been in your father's quarters. Why are you here? Why are you alone?" he asked. Concern flickered through his dark eyes.
"I...Cora...Duncan needed to..." Alice couldn't find her words. His fingers were still so close to her face. "Duncan wanted to talk to Cora. I didn't want to stay. I was tired of hearing what she always says. I was tired of waiting."
Uncas was taken slightly aback. She never spoke in such a rush. Waiting? Waiting for what? It threw him off, and he was always alert to the people around him. Except this pale slip of a girl. Over her shoulder, just beyond the fires, he could see Nathaniel. He could just barely see Nathaniel shake his head, as if to tell him no. Then he was gone, likely to find Cora.
"What...what were you waiting for Alice?"
"You. I was waiting for you. I was afraid that you and your family had gone from here. I didn't want you gone." She spoke with such quiet honesty, he almost missed her words. Her eyes wouldn't meet his. He lifted her face so that he was level with her eyes. He traced a finger along her jawline, saw her close her eyes and smile. That smile was rare; she seemed oddly happy with him there. He felt only completeness.
"Alice. Look at me." Instantly her eyes fluttered open. "I promise. I will never leave you. And I will always come back to you. Always."
It was a promise he meant to keep. He knew in his heart he meant it. Alice seemed to know it. She nodded and leaned her head against his shoulder. He gently kissed her forehead and together they watched the fires late into the night.