Raising a Hero–chapter 56

I returned home later than I thought I would. It had been dark for a while and the streets had been quiet. A quiet drizzle of rain turned every surface to mirrors reflecting the gas streetlights in the noble quarter, the simple candle lit streetlights of the rich quarter, and finally the darkness of the poor quarter. Even the home with fire inside had their shutters closed against the damp cold.

Sir Fairenson once more gave me a hand out of the carriage.

No sooner had my feet touched the stone of the street then Gus appeared in the doorway, showing pale like a ghost in the darkness. 

I thanked Sir Fairenson and the coach before allowing myself to be pulled inside the still warm common room. Gus closed the door quietly behind him, but didn’t let go of my hand. Rather, he tugged me down the hall to the kitchen, where the fire still went strong and the smell of the rain seeped through the panes of the kitchen window.

“Warm up,” he said, sitting me on the favored kitchen stool and rubbing my hands. “I’ll help you out of your boots.”

I wasn’t that cold, but since my hands had been outside the cozy reach of my jacket and my lace dress didn’t retain heat whatsoever, I appreciated the fire nonetheless. 

He knelt down to undo my laces. I sensed more than saw a tense air around him. It became sure when I felt the tall-tell tickle of his magic tickling at my ankles and feet like the legs of many centipedes. 

“Stop, that tickles,” I said through a snicker. “If you want to know something, just ask.”

He finally faced me, my bare feet held against the top of his thighs by my ankles. His brown eyes had paled to a thin ring of pink grey around his pupils. I couldn’t help but envy his lashes, long and thick and ever a gleaming silver. 

I brushed a thumb underneath an eye, across a pale cheek. “Your eyelashes are like a fairy’s.”

“What’s a fairy?”

I was mildly surprised. I had figured a magic world automatically included fairies. But I was tired and went for the SparkNotes definition.

“Magic beings with wings like dragonflies or butterflies. They’re said to be beautiful beyond words.”

A puff of air across the inside of my wrist and he leaned into my touch, though his eyes still shivered from side to side in my own gaze.

“You think I’m beautiful?”

“Of course you’re beautiful. Haven’t I told you that before?”

He gave a little sigh, then closed his eyes. He held a hand up to mine to press it closer to his face. I rubbed my thumb on his cheek some more, my touch craved self humming with content.

“Were you awake all this time?”

“Hmm,” he said.

“There was no need to be nervous. We worked out everything.” I was suddenly hit with a yawn big enough, I wouldn’t’ve been surprised if my jaw had popped off. I covered it with my free hand. “Can I tell you tomorrow? I’m really tired. I think I’m falling into a food coma.”

“Can…can I see then?”

“See what?”

His fingers tentatively brushed against my jaw and up to my temple.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Are you really that nervous?”

He nodded, biting his lip.

I pulled my hand away from him so I could run both down my face. Oh, this moody, troubled teenager. Couldn’t even sleep and probably wouldn’t be able to sleep until I eased his concern that I hadn’t agreed to get shipped off to a duke. Seriously, just how fast did he think these things worked? And didn’t he get that I didn’t want to get married? Just thinking about getting back into all the nigh-detective work which was the trials and errors of figuring out who’d make a decent husband made me nauseous. Didn’t he get that I’d spent half my life doing everything I could just to be happy in marriage just to fail anyways?

I was getting more and more tired the longer I kept thinking.

“Alright,” I said. 

Since we didn’t have our own private room anymore, Gus lead me down to the cellar, where our footsteps along the floorboards wouldn’t wake anyone in the inn. He didn’t bother with a candle, keeping his shoe in the cellar door so that it was left open enough for us to find it again where we sat at the foot of the ladder. Thanks to Hal’s meticulousness, even the cellar floor was carefully clean, and I didn’t have to worry about spiders or anything else crawling on me even down here.  

I heard him huff in the darkness and smelled earth and leather. My heart picked up a beat.

Hush, he’s only fifteen, I told it.

His warm fingers felt their way up my arm and shoulder to my temples, where they then weaved themselves in till his palms held either side of my head, his heartbeat thumping against my ears where his wrists were. It was fast. Faster than mine.

Hush, heart, you’re only fifteen, I told it.

It had been a while since I had felt his magic. Since we no longer shared a room, we’d lost our privacy and time during the day in which we could practice it. It had been even longer since he’d looked into my memories. 

But the touch was still warm, and more like a friendly tickle than anything, as they dove into the darkness, turning my attention inward to my mind’s eye. They took their time before carefully opening the panel of my short term memory to this evening. I could feel his intention through them as they did so, and his concern for not invading my privacy. Though I had always been open to him, he held to the fact rigidly that I had only given him permission to see this particular memory.

As the door opened, another door opened in his mind as well, like a perfect reflection of the same time. I had only noticed it the one time before when he had dove too deep. Then, his memories had come flooding out, as though pressured by my own. This time, I saw it as a simple opening. After all, in order to remember my memories, he’d have to open his own.

It’s okay. You can look.

A gush of his intention and emotions came with his thought. There was guilt, trust, and a yearning to give. He had regretted pilfering so much of my memories before without having giving his own in return, and when I had been so open with mine. He couldn’t resist the flood of his own memories coming over if he dug deeper than surface memories, but even so, he should have given more of his own.

I reached out to the door.

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3 thoughts on “Raising a Hero–chapter 56

  1. I wonder what she will find? Will Gus show her his bad memories? I know he had a hard childhood songs probably doesn’t have amor of good ones other than. Lily, Hal and Millie.
    It’s cute he waited up for her! He wanted to make sure Lily came home safely ❤️


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