If I Lost You
My first Ranger's Apprentice fanfiction, which I'm quite proud of!
Summary: After an injury to Will, Alyss checks on him and delivers some news. Takes place after the books. Some violence and may have a bit of fluff at the end.
Will winced as he bounced along the ground, air fleeing from his lungs.
Damn. That hurt. He got to his feet and coughed, blood coming out of his mouth. Something was definitely damaged inside.
He sneered at the grisly bandit that had actually managed to knock him down. It was really only by a stroke of luck…for the bandit. He'd managed to catch Will at the last second, jumping down from a tree branch to knock him off Tug's back. Will had known the bandit was there; he had considered pointing an arrow at him. He should've just shot the miserable excuse for a human being and been on his way.
Now the bandit was leering at him, yellow, rotting teeth making a nasty, malicious grin. His stained shirt was far too big for him and the velvet vest and leather belt were clearly not his own. The thug pulled out a knife, almost as large as Will's saxe knife and charged.
Idiot. Even wounded, Will could still move. He dodged the attack easily and pulled out his own throwing knife. The man turned around, confused as to why there was no dead body in front of him and charged again.
Really? There was only one way to stop an idiotic brute intent on murdering you, and it didn't involve jumping off a cliff. Will pulled back his arm, trying not to wince again, and let the knife fly. It spun through the air and embedded itself right into the center of the man's chest.
Eyes widened in shock, then the body fell stiffly, face down onto the earth. Will went over to the man; made sure he was dead, then kicked him over and yanked his knife out. He wiped it clean and returned it to his sheath.
Tug trotted over to him, nickering, both relieved to see Will on two feet and scolding. The horse nudged his gray head against his master's arm.
"Fine," Will sighed. "You can say 'I touch you so'". He started to climb into the saddle, but yelped as sharp pain went through his side. He instinctively put a hand over his left side. When he pulled it away, there was blood on it.
Broken ribs probably. Will tore the sleeves off his shirt and wrapped them around his side as a makeshift bandage. Finished, he motioned to Tug and the horse understood, lying down on the ground. Now it was easier for Will to get on his back.
"Go home" Will told him. Tug moved quickly, but carefully, aware of his master's ailing. It was a short ride back to Redmont, but it felt like days had passed by the time the familiar castle and village came into view.
He didn't go to the cabin, as he couldn't assess his injures and treat them by himself. Instead, he went straight to the castle, again wincing as he dismounted from Tug. A kind young groom came and took Tug to the stables for water and hay.
Will forced himself towards the stairs to Baron Arald's office, where he knew Halt would be. He'd only gone about halfway when a voice interrupted him.
"Will!" The voice was feminine, clear, and filled with concern.
Will turned awkwardly, trying to hide the bloodstains on his shirt. Lady Pauline was coming towards him, striding really, her elegant white dress flowing behind her.
"Halt's busy. Some idiotic noble up north making a fuss. Arald asked him to look into it."
"So he'll be thrown into a moat then." It was not a question.
Pauline smiled dazzlingly, her teeth almost as brilliant as her gown.
"Probably. Knowing Halt, he…My God, what happened to you?!"
Will looked down and realized she'd seen his shirt and was staring at him in horror, as if he'd just sprouted fangs.
"I had a…an incident in the woods. With a bandit. Believe me, it turned out a lot worse for him".
He explained what happened as Pauline ushered him into the infirmary, as he was unable, even with legendary Ranger abilities, to escape her domineering gaze.
The healer confirmed what Will had already suspected: he had two broken ribs on his left side and the skin was badly bruised. Luckily, there were no other serious injuries.
"Stay in bed for a few days. You need to rest and don't want to risk injuring yourself any further." The healer patted his arm in an attempt at comfort. "You're strong. You'll be fine. You just need to take it easy and give yourself sometime to heal."
When he was cleaned up and bandaged, he was ushered into a small guest room of the castle to rest. Arald's wife, Lady Sandra, after Pauline told her what happened, insisted Will remain at the castle instead of returning to the cabin, at least for a few days.
He grimaced at the fuss being made over him, but was secretly grateful for the generosity. He was sore and there was no way he could go back to the cabin and be comfortable by himself.
"Is there anything you need?" Pauline asked, her face showing a motherly concern.
"No, thanks." Will shook his head. "I'll just hang out here and rest for bit."
Pauline nodded. "I'll make sure someone comes up in bit with something to eat. You must be hungry."
"A bit. I'll be fine."
Pauline nodded again, and patted his arm, before standing up and gracefully moving out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Will leaned back on the bed and examined his temporary room. It was small, as a castle bedroom went, but was almost twice the size of his room in the cabin. A rectangular window overlooked the castle yard. A wool rug covered the floor between the door and the bed and two smaller rugs flanked each side of the bed. A fireplace on the opposite window wall was banked low; the glowing embers provided heat to the room. The four-poster bed was twice the size of his own and was covered with soft blankets and furs.
It was a nice, comfortable room. He would have to be sure to express his thanks to Baron Arald and Lady Sandra for their hospitality.
Sometime later, there was a muffled knock at the door. Will assumed it was Lady Pauline coming to check on him or the someone she sent with food.
He was half right. It was none other than Alyss, coming in like a younger version of Pauline, bearing a tray of food.
"Pauline told me you had gotten hurt. How are you feeling?" Alyss asked quietly, setting the tray down next to him. The diplomatic training drummed into her made her seem outwardly calm, but even a tiny bit of fear escaped into her voice.
"I'm fine, thanks. I thought you were up North. "
"I got back earlier. You weren't home when I returned."
He nodded and looked at the food on the tray- a loaf of bread, a bowl of stew, some cheese, and a bit of fruit- and pushed it away discreetly. He wasn't in the mood for food suddenly.
Alyss pretended not to notice. She hovered by the table where Will was sitting. A strange, awkward silence hovered over the couple.
"Do you want to sit down?" Will asked, gesturing to an empty chair, desperate to break the strange silence. In response, Alyss immediately dropped into it. She was no longer poised and calm, as she usually appeared, and Will couldn't help but notice how out of her personality this was.
He would've reached out and placed his hand on hers, but they were sitting clasped in her lap under the table and he couldn't reach them.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" he asked. Alyss shook her head.
"I'm fine." Anyone else would have assumed this was true; her voice sounded convincing enough and she even looked up at him, yet her eyes seemed hard. But Will knew her well enough and noticed the look.
"I'm fine!" This wasn't Alyss; she looked disturbing, her eyes went from hard to frightened, wild almost. The look on her face was one of a trapped animal, a lost frightened creature that had nowhere to go.
She looked at him, and Will swore he saw tears in her eyes.
"Pauline told me you'd gotten hurt badly. I…I thought I was going to lose you. I can't. Not now. I just…"
Her hands were on the table now and Will reached out to clasp them. They felt cold and it frightened him.
"Alyss, it's just a few ribs. I'll be fine. It's…"
The sentence was simply stated, with little emotion. Her eyes had gone back to normal, but they stared down at the table.
"I was scared. I didn't know how badly hurt you were, and I if I lost you…I couldn't do it alone."
"We both grew up without parents, Will" Alyss went on, "I don't want our child to have the same life. I want to be there for our child, I want you to be there. I want us to be that family we never had growing up and if I lose you…I don't know what I'd do."
Will carefully stood up and leaned over to kiss her gently. "You're strong. You could do it. But you don't have to. I'm not going anywhere."