A/N: This was intended as a one shot follow up to Promise Made. Apparently, the Muse wanted to play a bit more, and make this at least 2 chapters. So please, read and enjoy.
And, of course, I own nothing at all.
Even in the dark, when she closed her eyes to sleep, all Alice would see was memories of massacres and war. Even when it was quiet, all she would hear were the guns and the screaming. All she would smell was blood, smoke, and death. She knew that even when Cora had put her arm her shoulders and lead her down the path along the cliff. She knew that even when Chingachgook took the lead and Nathaniel followed with his own arm supporting his badly wounded brother. Uncas. He was alive, he had come for her. Alice dimly realized that he had kept the promise he made at the fort. She would have cried out of joy, out of horror of what she had just seen, but it felt as if she had forgotten how. Move forward, stay close to Cora. That was all that seemed to make sense.
Evening seemed to come early. The sky darkened and the air changed. Cora looked to the sky above and frowned. They would need shelter, and from the looks of it, soon. Alice barely noticed. She could barely feel. The earth could shake and she wouldn't notice. It was with complete disinterest that she heard Nathaniel call to his father in Mohican. She watched with complete indifference as Cora helped Natheniel set up something resembling shelter. Alice blindly followed when Cora beckoned her inside and sharply said, "Alice."
Empty, she thought. I'm empty. There's nothing inside of me.
If only she could feel.
Uncas felt more exhausted than injuried. Even when Cora had taken stock of his wounds, she was shocked that they weren't as bad as they seemed. His arm was the only injury that would need further care.
"I wouldn't use it," Cora instructed, tearing one last strip of cloth off her underskirt. "Rest it for a while. In a few days I will see about it and what needs to happen with it."
Uncas only nodded glanced toward Alice, who was caught between dozing and looking vague. Cora bit the inside of her cheeked and frowned again.
"And Uncas?" Cora sounded hesitant. Uncas looked at her warily. "My sister...Normally, this would be a conversation a father might have with a young man interested in his daughter. But...our father is dead, so it has to be me. Alice is fragile; she has been since the fever she had as a child that had also taken our mother. She is not best suited to this life, to any life that isn't the one she was raised to live. I should send her back to Albany, or to London, but there isn't much for her to return to. I am her only remaining family, so please...don't promise her anything you don't know you can give her. Do we have an understanding on this?
"Yes, we have an understanding," Uncas replied. Cora nodded tersely and turned her attention back to her sister. Don't promise her...don't promise her...They were Nathaniel's words. He wondered if Nathaniel and Cora had discussed his attitude toward Alice when he wasn't in earshot. He pushed the thought away. They were a sister's thoughts; he would have thought the same. But he had promised. Promised to protect her, promised to care for her. Somewhere in between loosing those damned horses on the George Road and that hellish fort, he and Alice and forged a bond. He would spend the rest of his life devoted to her wellbeing.
If only she could feel.
It was faint at first, but it was there. The low thud of thunder, followed by a quick flash of lightning. Uncas counted heartbeats until the next rumble. It was nearer, louder; the lightning flash was brighter, almost as bright as day. Alice and Cora had both fallen asleep long before the first roll of thunder. Nathaniel was keeping watch. Chingachgook just lightly dozing. Uncas couldn't sleep, he was restless. So he watched Alice sleep, and counted heartbeats in between flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder as the storm neared.
Alice stirred and made a small noise. The next thunder rumble was as loud as Uncas remembered the canons at William Henry being. The lightning brighter than the summer day. In that instant, Alice was bolt upright and awake. She clamped her hands over her ears in during the next rumble.
"No, stop" she whispered. The storm was on top of them. Alice was mouthing the words "no, stop" over and over. The thunder crashed again in a deafening roar. Rain pounded down through the trees surrounding them, wind whipping through the makeshift shelter. Alice was on her feet before it stopped, her eyes wide in terror, in panic, her hands still over her ears. Uncas was on his feet just as quickly. She had to run, get away. The war was still all around her, it wasn't safe here. She screamed and started to flee from the camp. Uncas made to stop her, but she only hit and pushed him away, too frightened and panicked to realize it was him. If she could run away from the sounds, from the smells, she could away from this hellish place. So she ran into the dark. Uncas followed.
Cora had awakened when Alice started screaming. Alice had been sheltered for most of her life, she hadn't experienced the world the way Cora had. Seeing this war no doubt had terrified her more than it had Cora, though even she had had nightmares the first time she had been with her father on campaign in Austria. She didn't blame Alice for it in the least. It was in the bright lightning that Cora even saw Alice and fled the camp, as if fleeing from the war in fear of her life.
"Alice!" she shouted, making to go after her sister when Nathaniel stopped her.
"Uncas is already out there after her. No sense losing all three of you in this. My brother will bring her back."