Tiredness went over her and in Neil’s warm embrace Jordis fell asleep far more quickly than she had thought.
Liam was startled from his sleep by something he had dreamt of, but he was not sure what it had been exactly. As he lay there in the dimly lit room, his heart was pounding heavily from his dream, but he could not recall any details, only the pressing urge to run…and find Colleen!
He almost jumped from the place where he had slept and looked around in the red and blue shine the inlays shone onto the stone surface. His eyes wandered through the entire room, found Jordis and Neil cuddled together at the opposite wall, but Colleen was nowhere to be seen.
“Damn it, honey, where…”, he muttered curses when he tried to get up, just to see Colleen lying right next to him. At first he frowned, but then he grinned like the idiot he was.
“Damn it, honey.”, he repeated his words, but now there was no agitation in them, but relief and…yeah, tenderness. Gosh, had he grown fond of this girl. Liam was still smiling and did not even stop when he realised that his hand was slowly travelling to her cheek and he had to admit that he in fact felt much more for her than just being fond of her. So much more it was already ridiculous.
In the very last second before Liam’s hand had reached Colleen, he withdrew it as she surely would not be happy to wake up to his touch. He sulked at the thought and was just about to go back to sleep as another thought hit him.
“Why on earth are you sleeping right next to me?”, he mumbled his question under his breath, not expecting an answer, but hoping to already know it. Well, he guessed that the darn knight had known it long before him and Liam had to admit that it had been his words that had made him think.
Liam watched Colleen’s sleeping face closely and could not believe that this now so sweet looking girl was so unbelievable fast with her dagger, especially when pulling it at him. But Neil had suggested that she only did so…yeah, why exactly? Because he meant something to her a well?
Snorted at this thought, Liam decided to go back to sleep now for real, alas, he could not. This stupid thought was nagging away on his mind and so he sat up again, frustrated and ruffling his hair until it was even more of an utter mess. Not that he cared, he had other problems.
He stared at Colleen and then slowly nodded as this stupid idea the knight had planted in his head was the only explanation that made at least some sort of sense. She liked him too.
Liam chuckled darkly at this, because she sure had some rummy way of showing her affections, hitting him and calling him names all the time. But, actually, in context with the knight’s words, that somehow made sense…
An almost silent whimper caught Liam’s attention and he listened carefully to hear it again which he soon did. There was another whimper, louder this time and filled with pain and fear…coming from Colleen. Without having even the chance for a conscious thought, Liam was with her, cupping her cheeks in his hands and beseeched her: “Wake up, honey, it’s alright. Hush, it’s not real.”
However, his efforts were to no avail, Colleen did not calm down, on the contrary, she now groaned in pain and thrashed around on her bedroll. Never before had Liam felt so helpless.
“C’mon, honey.”, he pleaded and all of a sudden, Colleen’s eyes snapped open.
“Thank goodness, you’re…”, Liam sighed in relief, but was silenced as Colleen growled and lunged at him, struggling him down onto his blanket determined to fight, he saw the aggressive sparkle in her eyes he would have thought could only be seen on a wounded and cornered beast. Right now, Liam was sure she would fight just as ferociously.
“It’s me.”, he told quickly told her and tried to fend off her hands, “Colleen, it’s me.”
Suddenly, her attack subsided and she was panting heavily as she now stared down at him and her eyes widened in surprise as she whispered: “Liam…”
“It’s alright, it was a dream. Whatever you saw, it’s not here.”, he tried to reassure her, but he so failed. Colleen hastily pulled away and only now that she had left, Liam realised that she had been straddling his hips.
She hid her face away from him and crouched back to her bedroll, but Liam cautiously asked: “Was it the swevens?”
“No!”, she snarled, “Leave me be!”
“No. Can’t and won’t.”, he simply answered and slid closer to her, but was greeted with a punch to his shoulder. Despite this, he did not back off and Colleen wanted to hit him again, but as Liam was prepared, he got a hold of her hand and sternly told her: “Stop it, that hurts.”
She winced and blinked at him, but Liam did not let her hand go, although he eased his hold of her to a gentler touch and softly told her: “Besides, honey, I’m not your enemy. I’m your friend.”
Colleen closed her eyes and hid her face in her hands Liam let go and she mumbled choked by tears: “I know.”
“But you can’t help it.”, he mumbled and her head shot up, she stared at him wide-eyed and so he added with a crooked smile, “I mean, look at me, this face is practically made to be kicked in.”
He really didn’t mean it as he was at least vain enough to like his face, but he hoped it would make Colleen smile. Again, Liam failed horribly. What was wrong tonight?
“I am sorry.”, she told him sincerely and now it was his turn to raise his eyebrows in surprise. This finally made her chuckle at least for a split second, but then she continued almost silently: “I really can’t help it, but that’s not your fault. It’s just…I’m wrecked.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she said that, Liam saw them glisten because of the light the inlays shone on her, and he also heard her tears in her voice.
“Don’t you say that.”, he told her and scrambled closer, putting one arm around her shoulders slowly enough to allow her to get away, but she did not try to, “As I said, honey, you’re amazing. You’ve got your flaws as we all do and honestly, no one could blame you for maybe having a tad more. But I’m no better than you are, trust me on this.”
“At least you’re no maniac.”, Colleen sobbed and again it struck him hard to see her like this, too weak to even care that he saw her tears, desperate enough to lean onto his shoulder, into his precautious hug, “I don’t wanna do this to you, I really don’t, but I can’t…I simply can’t…”
“Hush.”, Liam whispered to her and slid his fingers into her hair, pulling her closer before kissing her forehead lightly, “You can and you will. All you need is a proper fillip.”
Colleen chuckled just as he had hoped and Liam heard the grin in her voice as she asked: “Now, what sort of fillip would that be, huh?”
“No idea.”, he retorted with a grin of his own, “You’re the only one who can find out. And I’m sure you will, honey.”
With this, Liam placed a kiss onto her head and admired the interesting speckles of light that were reflected by her dark and shiny hair and was just about to let her go from his hug when he felt that Colleen put her arms around him. In disbelief, Liam felt her snuggle a little closer, just as she had done years before when he had often visited her at her parents’ farmstead, when the world had still been a lot brighter for her.
“Maybe I have…”, she whispered and Liam was convinced that he had misheard her words because if he had in fact heard what he thought he had – and she had meant it the way he wanted to understand it – that would be too much luck for one day.
So as not to ruin the little moment of peace they now had, Liam shut his mouth and just pulled his hug a bit tighter. With Colleen still in his arms, he leaned his back against the stone wall behind him and rested his head against hers. He had almost fallen asleep when he heard the scraping sound of…something scratching against stone.