The three of us ventured back to our camp. All of us were drenched from the rain that had finally started to let up. It now fell as a mist around us, clinging to our already wet hair and clothing in tiny droplets. Angel held Tobih close to her side with a single arm around his shoulder. They may have already been back to laughing and joking around, but I couldn’t join in. I kept my distance from the two of them. My eyes stayed on Angel. She knew. Those glances she would toss back to me every once in a while were wary and apologetic but I couldn’t possibly forgive her right now.
The camp had grown warm inside of that tall broken building. The fire still crackled with fierce life. As I stepped in, I was met with the gaze of Ragnvaldr. I quickly took my place by his side and his hand grabbed mine.
“It was her after all,” He realized and his face revealed the affliction he felt. His hand moved through his long blonde hair, which had been let down earlier.
Angel and Tobih sat on the other side of the fire. It was clear that Angel was trying to convince everyone that everything was okay now. She targeted Tobih specifically with her tales of ‘heroic’ deeds. I wish I could enjoy her story about fighting destroyers in Kessex. It went on like this until evening fell.
“It’s probably better if we stay the night here after all,” our conversation had went earlier. Angel suggested that we stayed while she was cooking the drake kabobs. Tobih, who had climbed back up to his perch agreed as did Ragnvaldr, who was still sitting next to me. I had to agree myself.
The drake kabobs had finished and we were eventually eating them. While I could tell that the cooking was good, it wasn’t really a flavor that I enjoyed. I ate it regardless. As usual, Angel was fishing for compliments on her food. I remained silent.
“You’re glaring daggers.” My lover’s voice called to me softly and quietly. I looked up to him and felt my eyes soften.
“I can’t see myself forgiving her,” I confided and shook my head.
He placed his hand on top of my head after I finished my shake, “I know just as well as you do that what she did was wrong, but she’s trying. That’s more than I could have expected from her.” I felt as if he, like Tobih, was too quick to forgive her. “I’m not asking you to forgive her. I’m asking that you give her a proper chance to show that this is something she’d never do again.” Though it wasn’t as if Ragnvaldr was a bad judge of character.
Tobih stared at me from above. “I get it, I get it,” I told Ragnvaldr and stood up, “I’ll give her one last chance. I’ll still be watching her like a hawk, though, and don’t expect any less.” I said it mostly to appease them. Grabbing a pair of scissors from my pack, I waved Tobih down. He climbed down the fallen pillar and carried himself to me. “Sit,” I ordered him. When he obliged, I began snipping away at his hair. Sliding the blades down each lock as a gathered them in my hand, I attempted to make the cut a little less blunt. I angled the scissors and created points. Then I moved on to the other side of his face, where the hair still covered his eyes. I remembered tucking it behind his ears so often, and while there was still enough for that, I had planned on cutting a few more tufts up front. Looking down to make sure he was okay, I saw a smile on his face while his eyes were closed. One by one, tiny tufts of hair fell to the mossy stone floor. As I finished up, I ruffled his hair with my hand and stepped back.
Tobih felt the newly trimmed hair with his hand after attempting to look up at it unsuccessfully, “Oh, a fringe?” It was an excited response from him and his face lit up. “I’ve never had fringe before. It stays out of my eyes better!” He stood up and showed it off to the other two before facing me again, “Thank you, Claire!”
I blushed and laughed a little. His praise felt embarrassing but I loved each moment of it. Tobih would always get excited about the smallest of things and his elation was almost always contagious. Before I knew it, I was swept up into a hug from him; my feet no longer touched the floor as he lifted me with his tightened grip. Not long after, I was back on the stone floor.
I couldn’t help but smile now, my spirits lifted a bit. He was fine and that’s what truly mattered right now.
“You did a fine job, Claire,” Ragnvaldr praised, standing and placing his large hands on both Tobih’s and my shoulders. While both of them were smiling, I couldn’t fathom thinking on anything that would take that away from them. I think they knew that.
Angel was reluctant to move from her spot. Her expression was pained but she smiled through it. I looked to the two beside me and saw their honest to goodness smiles and then I looked back at hers. I held out my hand for her, inviting her to join us. She hesitantly stood up and took it, where I pulled her into the moment with us.
She was still my friend. I wouldn’t forgive her for this, but I could at least give her a chance to redeem herself. After all, she never got that chance so many years ago and it was still eating at her. That and with my eyes watching the cheery Tobih from this moment on, there would never be another chance for anything to hurt him.
He began coughing at that moment. Ragnvaldr, whose hand still sat on his shoulder, knelt down to eye level with Tobih. Angel stood there, that look of concern brushed back over her face. I was the only one who knew the truth of this, but I feared that maybe his wish to have it remain secret would be crushed right then.
“Did you catch a cold?” Ragnvaldr questioned, feeling Tobih’s forehead with his hand. “You did stay out in the rain for some time today.”
“I think I must have caught something.” Tobih confirmed between another cough.
“You do seem to be a bit warm…” Ragnvaldr looked around for a moment, his glance falling on me for just a second. He was looking for the truth, but I couldn’t tell him. I looked away and felt terrible that I had done so. Tobih caught my eyes before I turned away as well. He had to know what I was feeling at that moment. Meanwhile, Ragnvaldr focused his attention on getting Tobih to lay down and getting a damp cloth on his forehead to cool him down.
“It’s been a long day for you, huh?” I knelt over him and said. Out of habit, I swept his bangs to the side as if to tuck his hair behind his ears.
“Yeah, but it’s just as important as the days that came before it.” Tobih smiled his sheepish smile and pulled his blanket over his shoulders.
Ragnvaldr spoke this time, “Something I think we can all agree on. Try to get some rest, will you, lad?” Tobih nodded and struggled with trying to sleep on his back. It was obvious that he wanted to sleep on his side, but then he risked the cloth falling.
Ragnvaldr and I decided to give him his room and ended up sitting by the fire. Angel stood by the door now, watching Tobih from there. She had abandoned her sword since she walked in after the incident. It lay forgotten in a corner behind the fallen pillar. The blood from both Tobih and the drake still sullied the blade.
A large hand landed on my shoulder; it was comforting to feel it there, “Are you okay?” The words rang in my head after he said them; I had been so focused on Angel and Tobih lately that I hadn’t really asked myself if I was okay. I wasn’t. Angel had just attacked Tobih. I was so worried for Tobih- I don’t know if he was going to be okay. What if he was dying? Taking my loved ones into the depths of Orr for a mission that may or may not even produce results on top of that? And me? Well, I still didn’t know what I wanted to when I set out. I was missing a large portion of my life, my memories. These were things I’d probably never get back and yet they felt so important. None of this seemed okay to me.
I nodded, “Yeah, I’m okay.” I needed to be okay. With the bad times there were always the good. I was fighting to keep the good times and I’m sure everyone else was doing the same. I needed to be okay for them.