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Chapter 11

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Thorne woke with a start, sometime later, hand clamped tightly over his mouth to muffle a cry. He sat, shaking, images from his dream flashing in front of him, before finally sliding off the edge of the bed and slithering to the window.

But looking out at the wild garden with its rocky pool didn't help. Again and again, he saw the guard fall, taken down by his own shot. Thorne shivered, rubbing his hands over his arms. He'd never tried to kill anyone before. And even if he hadn't succeeded...he'd meant to. He'd meant to kill them both, to keep his Kaven safe.

And Lady knew they would've killed him in a moment. Had even been tormenting Kaven with how they'd make a game of it, draw it out, hurt him as much as possible...

Thorne shivered again, returning to the bed only long enough to grab an extra blanket for himself before curling up in the window seat, pulling it around him. He didn't want to jostle Kaven, with his own nerves, but he couldn't seem to stop shaking, now that it was all over, and they were safe again.

There was no shame in it, they would have killed us all... Thorne looked down at his hands, remembering how he'd let his instinctual side take over the night before. His tongue ran over the sheaths for his fangs, inside his mouth, and he shivered yet again. He'd been willing to fight, to hurt, to do whatever it took, then, but now...Now the memory of it all had him feeling sick.

And sicker still, as it refused to go away, as he again saw the arrow bloom from the guard's throat, the other's severed head, all replaying over and over in his mind's eye.

He made it to the chamber pot before retching, at least.

"What troubles you, redling?"

He lifted his head quickly, startled yet again, and saw Brilara in the doorway of the sickroom, watching him with interest.

He flushed, a dull red, and spat one last time, resisting the urge to wipe his mouth. "I've never...I'm not a warrior," he said, finally. "I've never tried to hurt any one else before, and last night...I was set to kill two. My dreams were full of it, even if I didn't manage to finish off either of them." He bit his lip, looking up at her. "Can you tell me how...how to live with myself, after?"

Brilara sighed, looking down, brushing a strand of her white hair from her brow. "No," she said simply.

Thorne sighed again, turning away, and moved back to the window, staring out into the gardens. "Figures," he said softly.

"You cannot come to terms with death by anyone's means but your own," Brilara said. "I could give you a thousand different rationalizations, but none of them would help. You have to come up with your own reasons for doing what you did." She lifted her eyebrow. "I assume you had a reason?"

Thorne's lips twitched and he nodded toward the bed, where Kaven still slept. "Him. I would've done more, to save him..."

"Then consider what would have become of him, if you hadn't intervened," she said. "Choice is seldom easy, little one. Living with it is even less so."

Thorne sighed, and nodded. "My name's Thorne," he offered, after a moment's silence. "Though I suppose I am the littlest one here, aside from the younglings," he added ruefully.

"Thorne, then," Brilara said. "And you're small, but you are certainly not cowardly. Take solace in that. Without your help, I could not have taken both of your enemies down." She looked away from him, over at Kaven. "He lives because of you," she said softly. "Hold to that, and the memory of death will fade."

Thorne let out another deep breath and nodded, his eyes on Kaven as well. "He's always wanted to come here, to meet his kin...He told me his mother used to tell him they'd escape together, someday. But I could wish we'd met you another way. He'll take this so hard..."

"Betrayal is never easy to take," Briana agreed softly. "But I think he will take it less hard than you fear. I've seen how he looks at you, Thorne." She turned to him, eyes somber, though a small smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. "Your loyalty, and the loyalty of his other guardsman and the serving child, will heal him faster than you realize, I think."

"I hope so," Thorne replied, blushing slightly at her smile. It was incredibly strange, to have everyone know how he and Kaven felt about each other, when they were so new to knowing it themselves.

She inclined her head slightly. "Get some sleep, redling-Thorne," she said, the smile growing and making her look much younger. "Hold him close enough, and your dreams will be of him. It'll get easier in time."

"Thank you," Thorne said softly, sliding back up next to Kaven, wondering if he'd manage to sleep at all. It must be nearly dawn...but he'd lost track of time with the fight and the trek to the hidden city. He curled in carefully around the prince, wondering if he'd ever be able to forget his coloring here. Probably not, they all seemed determined to remind him.

He sighed, and Kaven shifted, turning toward him, his mouth forming Thorne's name and a soft sigh escaping him. Thorne hummed softly, soothing, and Kaven settled, pressing close and nuzzling into Thorne's throat before sighing and relaxing again.

"Love you, princeling," Thorne murmured, stroking Kaven's hair again, watching the window and the gradually lightening sky outside it. Soon the candle flame beside them paled, and was out-classed as the sun rose and color returned to the world.

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Poor Thorne, but such a lovely moment between them.
Awww, Thorne. *big hugs for him* He's so gentle--that must be tough as hell. :( Poor baby.

She's right, though--just ask yourself who you'd rather have living. Not a hard choice at all, put that way.
Poor Thorne! But it had to be done to save Kaven, but it was so different from the sweet gentle character that he is. I hope he gets through it.

Very sweet moment between Kaven and Thorne at the end. Can't wait to find out more about Kaven's kin! =]
I feel bad for Thorne because it's seriously eating at him. But Brilara's right, he did it for Kaven and if not for that reason alone, Kaven might not be here plus they would've killed him and the others... he should feel no shame in fighting not only to protect himself, but the one he loves and those that he cares about. :D

October 2009

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