Wool Gathering


Eragon couldn't help marveling at the steadfastness with which his enemies stood their ground on the battlefield. (But, he thought, men defending their homes and families would do that.) Still, though he had been in only a handful of battles with men, he couldn't help observing that it took someone with nerves made of steel, or something sterner, to not balk in the face of a regular opponent - let alone one such as Saphira, who could cleave them in two with a mere snap of her jaws. If Eragon wanted to be honest with himself, if he were an average soldier among the Empire's ranks and he were asked to fight diamond-hard claws and fangs the length and twice the width of his forearm with naught but a metal stick and the force of his will...

I can't say I would be as brave, he decided.

Saphira seemed amused by his ponderings. I don't think bravery is the trait, little one, she said, her frame shaking slightly with that deep, coughing chuckle of hers. Because of his position, the sound was louder than usual, and Eragon grinned, but paused in his work and kept still until it had passed.

You're going to cleave me in two if you aren't careful.

If you don't hurry, you mean.

I'm no more comfortable than you are, I promise. But I'll try to hurry.

Saphira cast him a few more disgruntled thoughts, but was otherwise compliant. Satisfied that she wouldn't move again until he was finished, Eragon shifted his position between her teeth, his legs sticking out of her mouth and dangling in the open air. Reaching up with both hands, he struggled to pry loose another knot of wool and meat still caught in the fangs at the very back of her mouth. Soggy and hot, the wool stretched itself thin, ripping in several indiscernible places, but refused to budge. Eragon dug his fingers in and pulled until it came free with a strained tearing noise, smacking wetly against his bare arm.

He had been doing this for the better part of an hour, now.

You'll never eat sheep again, he swore, his face contorted in disgust as he balled the wool and bits of flesh together, his fingers spread wide to avoid as much contact with it as possible. He leaned out of her mouth, flinging the mess to the floor. Never.

Though she wasn't one to be dictated to, Saphira did not disagree. The indigestion is certainly an inconvenience, she said, opening her jaw a little wider to accommodate him. She thought for a moment, as Eragon attempted to extricate another sticky clump of wool from her teeth. ...I suppose a few every once in a while couldn't hurt. They do have a certain flavor -

Stench, you mean, Eragon said, unable to mask his revulsion and glad he had, for the most part, forsaken meat.

He knew he definitely wouldn't have the stomach for it any time soon.

Piqued in response to his comment, though she knew he meant the sheep, Saphira snorted loudly. Because her mouth was open, she had to move the back of her tongue to cover her throat in order to push the burst of warm air out her nostrils; the movement, however subtle and unintended, jostled Eragon. He pitched forward, still clutching a mass of wool wedged in near her gums, and scraped his elbow against the serrated edge of one of her upper teeth, the palm and three fingers of his hand on another as he sought to steady himself and spare his legs. Surprised as he was, Eragon did not register the pain until a moment after the damage was done and he blinked at his wounds, immediately pulling them back toward his body so he wouldn't get blood everywhere.

His hands shook, and Saphira trembled, going rigid as she caught the scent of his blood and, through their intimate link, felt the stinging bite of pain in her limbs.

Get out, she rumbled when Eragon didn't move.

No, he said mildly, glancing up at her teeth and then over the red, ribbed roof of her mouth, I'm almost finished in here.



I am not so vain as to put my hygiene before -

What are you going to do - shake me out if I refuse? he asked, wincing and lifting his elbow and his mangled hand up from his lap, where he had pressed them to staunch the bleeding. Murmuring in the ancient language and delving deep into his mind for the energy he would need, Eragon healed the cuts in his flesh in a matter of seconds. The sensation left behind a familiar itching across his skin, though that, too, abated slightly as he rubbed away the excess blood on his trousers. To Saphira, who was still racked with anxious, guilty tremors, he sent his calmest, warmest feelings. There, see, mother hen? It was an accident and I'm fit as a fiddle. May I continue?

There was a long, tense silence, and then Saphira relaxed again, although she did so slowly and with great reluctance, grumbling, I don't see how the comparison to a wooden string instrument that elicits such horrible noise should ease my worries...

Smiling, Eragon resumed yanking at the damp tangle he'd previously been forced to abandon. In an attempt to lighten her mood and alleviate her remaining unease, he said, It's a good thing we aren't expecting company, we make an unusual spectacle at the moment. Anyone coming through the door would think those sheep hadn't been enough for you.

They would think correctly. But they would also have to be fools. I would eat any number of them before you, little one, though I would think dwarves nearly as unpleasant to chew on as the toughest granite.

Perhaps more so.


Fifteen minutes later, Eragon slung the last bit of matted wool and whatever adhered to it to the floor, slipping out from between Saphira's teeth and taking care not to cut himself again. As soon as he was free of her, Saphira closed her mouth with a heavy snap and raised her head, flexing her jaw and shaking away the discomfort of remaining so still for so long. A shudder ran the length of her body, making her dark blue scales ripple and the stone floor quiver. She dipped her head toward Eragon again, batting one bright eye at him.

Thank you, little one. I appreciate it.

You'd do the same for me if I had wool stuck between my teeth, he said, grinning and wiping his hands on the seat of his ruined trousers. He tucked his hand under the hollow of her jaw, scratching at the smaller scales there and getting a low, contented hum for his efforts. Now - I'm now in desperate need of a shower and a change of clothes. I'll be back soon.

And I'll make sure you didn't miss any bits of wool while you're gone. Let us hope you're bath is not for nothing.

Her tongue snaked out, licking her chops and catching him lightly on the shoulder. Eragon laughed.



(A/n) I read that bit in Brisingr where Saphira has wool stuck between her teeth before Orik's coronation, and I just couldn't resist. xD Besides, I needed to write something silly - all the other Inheritance fanfiction that I'm working on is straight-up depressing (interspersed with rare and minor mood-lightening). Reviews are appreciated~