Her knees buckled under the unaccustomed weight and she knelt down on the floor. She adjusted her grip around Roiben's torso and slowly stood, careful not to drop him. She backed up, dragging him to her bed before laying him across it. She bent over and picked up his feet and gently placed his bottom half onto the bed as well.
She sat down beside him and grabbed the wash cloth out of the basin kept on the nightstand. She wrung it out and placed the damp cloth against his forehead. She wiped away the dirt and dried blood as carefully as she could but he still winced against the slight pressure against his bruised face.
Once his face was wiped as clean as possible she made to remove his shirt. Honestly, there wasn't much left to remove but she still undid what buttons were left. When she pushed back the torn fabric a sob escaped her mouth but she quickly clasped her lips shut. She didn't want to wake him, not when it was obvious he needed to rest. Tears dripped down her cheeks while she pressed the wet rag against his battered chest. Sobs threatened to escape every time he winced unconsciously against her touch. Even after all the filth was washed away he still looked dirty with all the bruises and cuts littering his skin. The only light among all the dark was the thin white line that traced from his collar bone down to his waist and even that was a reminder of all the pain he'd been through in his lifetime.
She'd thought this was over with, that the curse had been broken. What had happened? The last day had been an utter nightmare, one she'd hoped to wake from this morning. She shook away her thoughts of dismay. She had to be strong. For him. He needed her now more than ever.
She looked down at his shirt which was still covering his arms. She wasn't going to risk turning him over in order to get it off. There was no other way around it, she was going to have to cut it off. Not that there was much left to salvage anyways. She stood and went to the foot of her bed, opening the trunk that sat there. She pulled out the slim knife that she kept in there. Her father had a knack for giving her presents that her mother disapproved of, which usually consisted of a variety of weapons.
She sat down beside him again and bunched up the fabric of his sleeve. She slid the knife inside of the shirt and slid the blade back and forth, slicing the fabric up his arm. She cut it all the way to the collar and pulled the fabric apart. His arm wasn't as bad as his chest but his joints were bruised and his hands were caked with more dirt and blood. She leaned over him to repeat the process on his other arm but his hand was tucked under his body. She looked at his face and, content that he wasn't about to wake up, she grasped his forearm and tugged. His hand was almost free when she felt his body shift underneath her and then she was thrown from the bed. She landed across the room on her bottom and she looked up in shock. He was sitting up and pressed against the wall, his hands held up defensively in front of himself. His eyes were wide and dark and frightened, just like an animal. He was glaring at the knife in her hand and she realized her thought she going to hurt him. She deliberately placed it on the ground beside her and raised her hands, showing that she was unarmed and not going to attack him. Then she stood up as calmly as she could, so as to not startle him again. She winced as she stood, her backside was definitely going to be bruised by that fall.
She slowly walked towards him, hands still held up. He pressed harder against the wall and his eyes flickered between her hands. They stopped and rested on her left hand. His eyes lost the hard and wild edge, softening and brightening at the same time. He slumped and looked into her eyes and she could see the change from the person before. His pupils were smaller and his green eyes gleamed with a human intelligence instead of animal instinct. She smiled at him, trying not to show any of the distress from earlier. She moved closer and sat on the bed beside him.
"You okay?" she whispered. Why did she ask that? It was obvious he wasn't okay.
He merely shrugged and quirked a small smile at her. It dropped a second later, though, and he grabbed her left hand. "You're hurt," he said in a small, barely audible voice. He turned her hand over and she winced at the pressure. There was a slice across her palm and it was oozing blood.
"It's not that bad, I didn't even notice til now." It was her turn to shrug sheepishly at him. She must have cut herself with the knife when she fell.
She got up and picked the knife off the floor and wiped it clean before replacing it in the trunk on the floor. She cleaned her hand with the wash cloth and turned to him, motioning for him to take the rest of his shirt off. He obliged and she sat beside him once more. He turned around and she settled on her knees, gently pressing the rag against his back.
They were like that for awhile, no noise except for the trickle of water when she had to wring out the cloth. It was tense with worry, from what had happened the day before and what had happened just now. She had so many questions that she needed answers to, but she didn't know where to start. He must have been having thoughts along the same line because it was he who broke the silence first. But it was an apology, not a question.
"I'm sorry," he said in a small voice. He sounded ashamed.
"I'm fine," she insisted. When he didn't say anything she leaned forward and grabbed his chin, turning his face towards hers. His eyes looked so tired and full of pain, it nearly broke her heart. "It's just a cut," she told him. "It hardly even hurts at all."
"I still hurt you. I lost it and I hurt you. I can't believe I did that to you..." He looked away but she pulled his face back to hers and pressed her lips to his. He was stiff at first but slowly melted into the kiss. He groaned when she released him and pressed his forehead against hers. "I'm still sorry," he told her again.
"And I'm still fine," she laughed.
He rolled his eyes. "And stubborn as hell, I see."
"Hey!" She protested and went to swat his arm but thought better of it since it would probably be a lot more painful for him than she intended, seeing as it was covered in bruises. "The real question is are you okay?"
He shrugged. "I'm alright. It's nothing I haven't gone through before. Although..."
"I've never changed twice in one day."
She cocked her head to the side. "Never?"
He shook his head, "It was always once a year. I think you know what day."
"Oh," she gasped in understanding. "Is that why I only saw you on my birthday?"
He nodded, "It's been the same day every year ever since the first change. I'm not sure why it happened but I'm glad it did, otherwise I'd never have met you. It being on your birthday was just a pleasant coincidence." He smiled warmly at her but it faltered. "I don't understand, though. I thought...I thought it was over." His eyes were troubled and she felt his own pain and confusion mirror in her.
"I did, too," she told him sadly.
He just shrugged, not knowing what to say back. He looked out of the window at the lightening sky.
"It's still early. I can make it back to my room without anyone noticing."
"I wish you didn't have to go," she told him earnestly.
"Me neither," he replied. He smirked and some of the warmth returned to his eyes. "Pretty soon I won't have to," he told her.
She blushed but held her ground and smirked back, "I can't wait." His mannerisms were rubbing off on her.
They both stood and he tried to piece his shirt back together. She chuckled at him, "Here, take this." She handed him her dark blue cloak that she took with her when she went riding. "Just make sure you give it back, it's my favorite."
He fastened it around himself and leaned down to kiss her. "What's yours is mine," he teased, before retreating from the room.
She rolled her eyes and slammed the door behind him. She could hear him still laughing down the hall as he walked away. She walked back to her bed and plopped down, sighing into her pillow and shutting her eyes. At least he was still capable of laughing, for that she was thankful. Now time for that sleep she had meant to get back to...
She heard a knock at the door. "Merida," her mothers voice rang out. "It's time to wake up, sweetie!"
She groaned and rolled out of bed. Today was going to be a long day.
She didn't see Roiben again that day until the evening at dinner. He was seated next to her father, probably discussing the work they'd went over that day, and he'd smiled at her when she walked in. He looked tired but other than that completely normal. His cheeks that were bruised that morning had already healed and again she thanked his abnormally fast healing even if it was because of the curse.
She was helping her mother and the maid clear the table. They were just about done when Roiben came up to her and held out his arm. "Mind if I walk you back to your room?"
She looked at her mother for her approval. She waved her away, smiling. "Go ahead, we're almost done," Elinor told her.
She smiled gratefully and took his arm. They were walking down the hall and towards the stairs that led up to their sleeping quarters when he turned and led her down a different way instead. She looked at him questioningly.
"I forgot to grab your cloak," he explained. "My room is down this way. Just let me grab it for you really quick."
She nodded and let him lead the way. They came to a large oak door and he opened it, beckoning her inside. "I'll be quick," he promised. She stepped inside and he followed. It was a standard guest room with a wardrobe, bed, trunk, and a table where a water filled basin sat. She went to the single small window and looked out at the stars that were shining in the night sky.
"Here it is," he said, handing her the cloak she had lent. She smiled and took it from him, folding it over her arm.
"Thanks." She smiled. "It's a beautiful night," she told him, gesturing to the sky outside.
"Indeed it is," he agreed and looked out of the window with her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and she leaned her head against his shoulder.
"That giant star is there again," she pointed out the bright light that dotted the sky that she'd seen yesterday, before everything went to hell. "I think it's bigger!"
She felt his body stiffen next to her. His arm let go of her and he stepped away, gasping for breath. "Not again," he whimpered. She stepped towards him but stopped, realizing what those words implied.
He looked up and she could see his eyes changing again, just like the day before. "Merida," he choked out, "You have to go! Please, I can't hurt you again! Go, lock the door so I can't get out." His knees buckled and he was down on all fours, his whimpers of pain merging into low growls. She heard the first of the multitude of cracks and dashed out of the room. Trembling, she shut the door and started fastening the locks that were on the outside of the door. Her hands were shaking but she managed to get them shut before he completely changed.
She could hear scratching on the other side of the door, and then the sound of glass shattering. He must have broken the window, she realized. He was too big as a bear, though, he wouldn't be able to fit through. It was quiet for a second, then came a crash and she heard him slam into the door. She could feel the vibrations in the floor but the door didn't budge. He slammed into it again but the locks were secure.
She hadn't even noticed she was crying until the sounds of sobs reached her ears. She slumped against the wall and slid down onto the ground. Why was this happening? He didn't deserve this, neither of them did. They couldn't go through this again. She couldn't lose him, not after what they'd been through to finally be together.
She wiped her tears away. She couldn't cry anymore, she wouldn't. She had to be strong, like this morning, for him. He was putting up a fight in there and she was going to put up a fight, too. They were in this together. She fastened her cloak around herself and made herself comfortable. No one would be able to hear him, not tonight anyway. He was the only one in the guest wing. The servants quarters were on the other side of the castle near the kitchens and her families rooms were in a different wing on the floor above. No, they were all alone down here.
She rested her head back against the wall and closed her eyes. She could hear his angry low roars resonating from the room in front of her. It was going to be a long night, but they were going to spend it together.
A/N: Yay another chapter. I'm so feeling this story right now! Haha. Thanks for all of your pleasant reviews! I get so happy every time I get a new one. :) If you have any questions, comments, concerns, feel free to ask! I'll totally get back to you on any of that. I love getting reviews like that and it helps me make the story more enjoyable for you. Let me know what you think!