A/N: Just something that popped into my head. Apologies for all historically inaccuracies. Decided to just go with it. :)
"It hurts, Tiernan," she whispered in the darkness, shifting against the dank, cold wall. "It hurts all the time."
It had been so long; she expected the pain to subside into a dull ache, to a bearable level, but it hadn't. It still screamed inside her chest, overwhelming her even in her calmest hours.
The guards were bearable, for the most part; only a few habitually handled her less than gently, and after she left one man in a state of questionable ability to reproduce, the groping and passes at her had stopped. She'd missed three meals for that stunt, but she had seen the amusement and respect in the eyes of the men who had pulled her away and helped the shrieking victim to leave.
The adrenaline rush hadn't been too bad either.
Her English was improving, but somehow her mouth refused to form the ridiculously short vowels correctly, earning a hearty laugh from most of the guards she spoke to.
"What...is wrong?" she'd demanded to the last one.
He laughed. "Oh, nothing, love."
Her body hurt no more than it always had, and yet somehow the pain she experienced was worse than any that had afflicted her in the past. It was this agony that refused to ebb, that pushed past her defenses and infected her very core.
Physical pain she could handle; that was concrete, understandable, unlike this fluid confusing stabbing that seemed to go on forever.
It wasn't about Tiernan - well, more accurately it wasn't just about Tiernan. Her son...her heart ached fiercely for Eoin, the tiny child she had known for a painfully short amount of time. Would she even recognize his face if she were to be blessed with a glimpse?
But though her heart ached fiercely for her left behind loves, equally as strong was her spirit's ache for the sea and her land. Sleep brought only wistful dreams of Ireland's rocky shores and lush meadows and did nothing to assuage her homesickness.
Her mind swam with escape plots, but all seemed unlikely with her shameful English and her unmistakably Irish appearance, in the middle of London...she would not get far before she was dragged back, and likely taken to the Tower...
Grania shuddered inwardly at the prospect. Every Irishman heard the horrors of the English Tower and dreaded those stone walls more than anything in the world.
That had been her first thought when she was dragged onto the English vessel. Stilling from her violent struggles against her captors as her heart bottomed out, she frantically spoke the Gaelic words. "Where are we going?" she demanded in her best captain's voice, focusing on the closest soldier not holding her. "Please, tell me! Are we going to the Tower?"
He frowned at her, shaking his head, clearly not understanding. She could still remember the overwhelming rush of frustration she had been overcome with that did nothing to assuage her fear of torture.
She tried again as she was pushed into the brig, drawing a hesitant finger across her throat with a what she hoped was a questioning glance.
Comprehension dawned on his face. He shook his head, speaking English, and then shrugged. Clearly he was unsure about her fate in the future.
Heavy footsteps pulled her out of her recollection, and her internal clock informed her it was time for the measly amount of air and sunlight the prisoners were allotted. She pulled herself to her feet with what seemed like a monumental effort.
"Come on, Grace," a guard called as he unlocked the cell.
Forcing herself to maintain a mask of cool neutrality, she allowed him to take her arm and pull her from the prison, though she personally believed she felt far too many parts of his anatomy in the process. She rolled her eyes; men would always be men, English or otherwise.
She only blinked a little when she took the precious step outside the filthy prison walls. The sun was hidden behind a dreary blanket of English clouds, and even as she turned her face towards heaven the atmosphere felt equally as oppressive as her prison cell.
She edged back to the door as rain began to fall. No wonder the English want Ireland, she mused. Their country is an ugly rock.
Sighing as the cold English rain soaked through her dirty hair and filthy clothing, chilling her to the bone, she crowded with the other prisoners to be let back inside. She withdrew into her mind, escaping from this place in favor of a beautiful Irish shore and warm Gaelic sun.
Finally a guard guided her inside, and she had barely breathed a sigh of relief when another guard leered at her.
"Come on, wench, why don't you take those wet clothes off and warm up?"
A few seconds was all she took to temper with letting it go. She wrenched free and launched herself at him, fist colliding with his face. Two others pulled her away, holding her in place for the other man to carelessly backhand across the face.
He shrugged. "Your loss," he muttered. "I know how to give a wench a good time, better than any of those Irish bastards."
Grania spit squarely in his face.
She only missed one meal, and, as she leaned on the wall of her cell, she found it oddly amusing.
One had to find some fun in everything, right?