A/N: This takes place between chapters 20 (XX) and 21 (XXI) of The Naming. Maerad goes to check on Cadvan in the middle of the night after he is healed by Nelec. This is my first attempt at Pellinor Fanfiction so please don't flame me if it's horrible. Alison Croggon has a beautiful writing style and it's a challenge to replicate. All belong to her. Please read, review and Enjoy!
Maerad woke from her dreamless sleep restless and uneasy. She stared up at the vast ceiling of her bedroom feeling a cold sweat clinging to her brow. Only hours ago had she arrived in Norloch with Cadvan and her brother, Hem. Cadvan had seemed grimmer than usual since their battle with the wight four days ago but, she quickly learned that he had been suffering in silence, willing himself to get them to the House of Nelec safely.
Images of his face, gray, sullen, and scarred flashed through her mind and the familiar feeling of guilt washed through her. How had she not known how ill he was? She should have seen. Maerad sat up and pushed her fingers through her thick hair, still damp from her evening bath. Nelec told her that Cadvan was fine and that the threat had all but passed but until she saw him for herself she would believe no one. Swinging the covers away, she stepped onto the cold floor, pulling a wool cloak over her thin night dress . As she pulled the heavy door open she sent her mind out, seeking the familiar pull of her companion.
Navigating the vast hallways of Nelec's house at night sent shivers of fear down her spine. Most of the house was quiet now, as all of the students had gone to bed, and the few candles that were lit cast tall shadows on the walls making the simplest of objects look like beasts in the night. As Maerad followed the pull in her mind she was careful not to bump into one of the many ornate statues that lined the halls. One time though, as she round a corner, her toe caught the edge of a table and she cursed loudly. Clamping a hand over her mouth she continued down the last stretch of hallway that lead to Cadvan's quarters. She stopped when she reached his door. An unfamiliar nervousness bubbled in her belly; she had never been in Cadvan's room before, let alone when he was asleep.
Maerad knocked softly out of courtesy before slowly pushing the heavy door open, "Cadvan?" she whispered from around the door. There was nothing but silence for a while before sounds of gentle snoring greeted her. The corners of her lips twitched into a smile as she walked silently into the room. His room was very similar to her own. The stone walls were decorated with a few lavish paintings and various trunks lined the walls. Maerad saw that Cadvan's sword glittered in the corner, a lone candle cast dim light around the room. A few seconds passed before Maerad's eyes fell upon the sleeping form of her guide. Her body filled with an uncharacteristic warmth; she had never seen him so vulnerable before. His brow, which was usually tense with thought or determination, was relaxed making him look years younger.
Silently, she made her way to his bedside. Many nights when she took first watch she watched him sleep but something about seeing him lay there so still left her feeling unnerved. His breathing was shallow and sporadic as if something heavy weighed on his chest and, she noticed for the first time, the severity of his wounds. Although the whiplashes on his cheeks had been newly cleaned and stitched she could see that they cut deep; the bruise around his eye was dark and unforgiving.
Seeing Cadvan in such a state left her shaken. Nelec's comments about how close he'd come to death echoed through her mind and she felt a tightness in her chest as tears welled in her eyes. Why didn't she notice how weak he had become? She was so preoccupied with her own thoughts that she hadn't even bothered to ask if he was alright. Unlike her, Cadvan always made sure she was safe. He always looked out for her and the one time he needed her to do that for him, she failed. "I've failed you," Maerad whispered as the tears that gathered in her eyes threatened to fall.
She took his hand in hers, noting the contrast. While hers were small and relatively smooth, his were large, rough, and calloused. Even though they were obviously different, they fit well together: much like their relationship. Maerad thought for a moment how much her life had changed at the hands of the man laying before her. He had rescued her from a life of slavery, revealed her true past and identity to her. Before Cadvan, she knew nothing of Bards and the innate power of which she possessed. He taught her everything she knew, albeit sometimes getting impatient with her when she did not understand.
Maerad sighed, he was her only friend and the only person she trusted. If she had lost him she wouldn't know what to do. There was so much yet that she had to learn, that she had to find, that she had to see, and she wanted him there to witness all of it with her. A piece of stray hair fell into his eyes and as she brushed it away she realized how attractive he was. She noticed the dark stubble growing along his jawline, and the fullness of his lips. Never before had she found a man attractive. She had spent most of her life living in fear of them that she didn't even bother to look. But Cadvan, with his quiet, stubborn strength, was different. Somehow she knew that he would never harm her.
She smiled softly when he stirred next to her and sighed deeply for the first time since she'd entered. He must finally be resting well, she thought. Maerad's heart skipped a beat when his hand unconsciously squeezed hers. Cadvan had always been kind to her and they had a comfortable banter that others seemed to call flirting but never had she thought that he might actually have more than benign feelings for her. She was just Maerad, a skinny slave girl who he was charged with guarding until their task was complete. If they survived, he would return to his life of solitude and she would presumably continue her education at one of the Schools. The thought of one day not being with him was difficult for her to bear but she knew it would likely come to be.
Right now she was glad to be with him, with the lone candle casting a gentle light on his face. She thanked the Light for his safety and continued healing. Finally, she had the reassurance that she needed: Cadvan was safe and going nowhere. Maerad yawned and was reminded of the lateness of the hour. Not wanting to startle him if he awoke, she tucked Cadvan's hand under the warmth of the blankets before standing up. Maerad took one last look at him, letting the night's thoughts sink in. She had come much too close to losing her friend but, maybe, this was what she needed in order to realize how she truly felt for him. Cadvan sighed again but this time his eyes fluttered slightly. Maerad took this as her cue to leave but not before bending down to place a chaste kiss on his forehead.
"Rest well. We have much to see together," she said before exiting back to her own bed.
Just as the door clicked shut, Cadvan awoke with a puzzled expression. He ran his thumb over his fingers feeling as if he'd lost something. He reached up and traced the spot on his forehead where Maerad's lips had just been, surely he had been dreaming. Smiling weakly, he fell into a deep sleep filled with images of girl with the darkest hair and the most beautiful of smiles.