An intensely rocky start back into LfBH, so I hope you’ll forgive me. A more action-packed piece will be up on Monday. Thanks to everyone who enjoys LfBH for your patience. <3 LfBH is nothing without you.
There was little time. The skies, even here, were a dismal gray, as if Blackford Hill was reaching out to offer its misery like a plague upon the people of the small village. Every time a guard entered the village, he brought with him a depressing silence that lasted for hours after he left. Phaedra knew that their presence was wearing thin on the residents here, and so, once they were healed enough to move about safely, she proposed they leave.
Felix was unhappy. He knew his father would be looking for him. He knew that this wasn’t over for him, and if Silas insisted on tagging along (which he knew he would), then things would be very dangerous for him, indeed. As far as the young Count was concerned, his life had been thrown away the moment he set the flame to that temple. The gallows were the place for him, but Silas had a chance at a new life.
Tully, on the other hand, was eager to be out of here; eager to be as far away from their prison hellhole as humanly possible. She wanted to go home. She wanted to be where it was safe, warm, and dry. She wanted Phae and a life of their own.
Standing at the mouth of the village, where the only broad road led in, the stonework ending at the edge of the populated area and melding into packed dirt, Phaedra shouldered a crude canvas bag with a single strap over her shoulder, and glanced to Tully.
“I’m ready…” Tully responded to the wordless request. “I don’t want to leave them behind, Phae, can’t they come with us?”
Phaedra sighed. “They’re a liability to us, just as we are to them. It’s safer for everyone if we split up. We need the best chance possible at not being picked up again.”
“I suppose that means we’re not going back to The Willow?”
“It’s fine, Phae… it’s fine. Let’s go, alright? We’re losing daylight.” Tully turned to face the road, just as Silas came bounding up behind them, a hand falling heavily on Phae’s shoulder, accompanied by a good-natured laugh.
“Thought you’d run off just like that, yeah? I don’t think so,” Silas laughed as Felix sauntered up beside him, and cast his eyes away.
“We didn’t want to make this any harder,” Phae explained, and gave a faint smile as she turned. For as skeptical as she had been of these two men during their first hours together, she had gained more respect and affection for them during their time here than she had expected. They were good friends, even Felix, the mouthy pain in the ass. It was because they were good friends that they deserved a fair chance; it would be selfish to hold them back by traveling with them.
Tully threw her arms around Felix and kissed his cheek. “If we ever go back home, I’ll find a way to let you know. You can come visit. You’d love the bakery, Felix.”
Felix’s cheeks flared a bit red and he smiled faintly. Friendship had never been something he had been good at, but with Tully, it was so easy. She a sweet person with good intentions and a love for just about everyone.
“I’ll come visit with you, I promise. At the bakery, or elsewhere, I’ll find you when things settle, Tully. Maybe Silas will be with me.” Another faint smile.
“Don’t look so grudging. He likes you. Let him stay. You need someone to support you, Felix. You can’t possibly let yourself be miserable forever. Let him enjoy your company, and for the love of the Gods, try to enjoy his, hm?”
Another dark blush from Felix and he laughed. “It makes me feel guilty.”
“You shouldn’t. Go. We’ll talk again soon. I promise you.” She shoved him lightly, and turned to take Phaedra’s hand, a slight wave behind her to signal their departure. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she inclined her head, as if doing so would keep them from falling.
“It’s for the best,” Phaedra stated yet again, giving her hand a little squeeze. “It’s safer for all of us if we split up. And our work will take us to places where they have no business being.”
Sniffling in finality, Tully brought her hand across her eyes and nodded. “I know. And Felix has business with his father. I just hope he comes out of it in one piece.”
Phae gave a grim nod, and kissed her beloved’s fingers. “We all will.”
Felix cast a glance to Silas, his eyes sliding over him head to toe, and he gave a very bare, helpless smile. If Silas were ever to change his mind, Felix knew that it would be now and he would be left alone. Silas was a good man, and he knew that he liked him, but how could the Count expect someone like Silas to suffer his upper-class woes?
“That was hard, yeah?” Silas drawled, drawing on his cigarette and tossing it aside.
“Smoking is disgusting…” Felix muttered and turned toward him, pulling his cap over his head and meandering alongside Silas.
“I know. So, what’s the plan, Count?”
Felix rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know. Go to my father. Kill him. Take what he doesn’t deserve and try like hell to do some sort of good with it, I expect. We need to do something about Blackford Hill.”
Silas slipped a hand discreetly into his and tugged him between two buildings, where he promptly stole his lips in a reassuring kiss. “Let’s do that, then.”
Felix swallowed hard and stared at him, before he dropped his eyes to their clasped hands. “Let’s,” he breathed with a faint nod. “Yes. Well, to my father’s then.”
With a single glance back to the departing women as he came out of the narrow alley, Felix drew a breath and pulled Silas down the road in the opposite direction.