The mouldy straw itched at his back, prying sleep from his exhausted mind. Rolling to his side he stared at the dust filled air as it flickered in the sunlight, the segmented light searing through the grime of the abandoned barn from every split plank and crevice between wooden doors.
It felt strange to be resting in the darkness when it was so bright beyond, to be forced to travel through the night was a precaution, but the hiding in the hours of the living he could not adapt too. He felt too vulnerable knowing the Guides might catch them unaware, with such light to expose them and few shadows to shelter in. Looking over to Clarissa as she slept, blissfully unaware as always, her auburn hair burning in a streak of sun even through the dirt they had soiled it with. He fought the need to hide her away from them, to protect this innocence from their vendetta. She was better off never knowing color, he mused.
"She worships you for showing it to her though,"
Startled he sat up to see Serena watching him, those amber eyes boring into him as though she were making a casual observation, and not intruding his thoughts.
"What are you talking about?" An edge of annoyance from being caught so obviously striking his voice.
Realising his embarrassment she merely shrugged and looked away, the same air of indifference around her. As if anyone could hold such faith he fumed.
"She would have found the path without you, and will continue down it even when you have left." She said, standing to dust off her dress and peek through a rotted beam.
"You think I'll leave her to the fate of the Guides?" he asked incredulously.
"The Guides are just one obstacle - " she spoke hurriedly, turning from the wall she advanced upon him, "I can taste your doubt, I can see you cringe, know your need to abandon the futile and tend to the practical, you yearn to return to your inconspicuous life away from the struggles of hope." He sat stunned beneath her glowering form, her body suddenly bristling with passion as she exposed everything he had ever second guessed.
"Yet I still hope that you will lead her through, and be the protector she needs," going to her knees she gripped his shirt, her eyes filling him with such intensity he could hardly breathe. "Fight for her," she growled, "and don't let yourself be consumed."
Before he could answer the barn door fell from its hinges in a cloud of splinters, and like a dam collapsing he was stunned by the light that washed over him, drowning out the darkness. A heartbeat seemed to pass before he heard the cry, piercing his mind with fear as he searched for Clarissa through the spots flashing in his vision. Leaping to his feet he staggered forward, reaching for her hand, tightening around her touch and pulling her behind him.
Everything seemed deafening as they ran in, yelling calls to surrender, threatening and imposing, their forms dark silhouettes against the blinding day where grey robes no doubt awaited.
Part of a scene where I nailed the heart and torment of a character,
my two favourite things.