For the first twelve scenes posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we followed Scorpius as a seven-year-old, fetched from the nursery by a falconer to become his apprentice.
The next twelve scenes followed ten-year-old Scorpius as he discovered the dangers of serving the nobles he'd once imagined were family.
The third set of twelve scenes gave us a thirteen-year-old Scorpius, who discovered the true extent of his master's attempts to shield him from the cruelties of life outside their falconer's cottage.
We rejoin him at age sixteen.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Lord Thibault squirmed restlessly on the falconer’s bed, soft sounds of distress escaping into the little room. Tiny bumps erupted over Scorpius’ skin as he tried to sense the position of the guard outside, poised beneath the window.
The young noble’s face lined with pain, his body stiffening as he coughed. Then for the first time in a day and a night, his eyes opened.
Scorpius’ heart swelled with relief, though his fingers gripped the concealed knife handle even tighter.
Gaze roaming the unfamiliar room, Lord Thibault at last settled upon Scorpius’ face. Tension fell away as he smiled a wan smile.
Scorpius leaned forward, placing a hand on the noble’s hot brow, watching Lord Thibault’s lips working to form Scorpius’ name.
The noble’s thready voice became an urgent whisper.
But it was a female’s voice – “Scorpius!”
Cocking his head, certain he must be hearing things, Scorpius caught a glimpse from the corner of his eye. Shiny hair smoothed back into a complex design followed by a finely-woven cloak rose up over the window ledge.
Scorpius surged forward to grasp the shoulders of the woman who slid down into the room. Kneeling to follow her descent, breaking her fall as well as he was able, Scorpius grunted as she turned with speed and force, pinning him to the ground.
Her fingers pressed hard against his lips.
Scorpius looked up into her eyes - and lay still.
It was Ingerith.
She saw his realization and relaxed her grip on his mouth. Scorpius’ chest seized with emotion as she held a single finger before her lips. She waited until he nodded before climbing off of him.
Lord Thibault, too weak to defend himself, pushed upright in the bed as far as he was able, holding his gaze steady if this was to be his last breath.
Thrusting a hand out to grab Ingerith’s skirts, Scorpius held up his other hand to stop her. Scrambling to his knees, he sought Lord Thibault’s gaze.
Then he looked up at his master’s lover, who had helped Scorpius to mend Richolf’s broken body after he’d been put to the question. Taking her hand in his, gazing over at Lord Thibault to be sure he watched, Scorpius bowed his head before her hand and then kissed it.
Ingerith looked down at him, her face flushed with emotion. The gaze they shared could only reach between two people who have made terrible memories together.
Swallowing hard against them, Scorpius took her hand and moved it towards the bed, gesturing towards Lord Thibault with the other.
Nodding deeply twice, Scorpius saw the young noble’s recognition of their offer. Lord Thibault relaxed and slid back along the pillow, again coughing painfully.
Crawling as quietly as he could, Scorpius grabbed up the ointment prepared by the apothecary’s assistant and offered it to Ingerith. She brought it to her nose to discern its contents, dipped a finger in and rubbed the mixture between her fingers to get a feel for it.
Then she jerked her head forward to call for his assistance. Working together in silent swiftness, Ingerith and Scorpius peeled back the previous dressings on Lord Thibault’s wound.
When it was treated, and before they let him collapse, Ingerith slipped a glass vial from her pocket, uncorked the lid, and tipped a mouthful into the young noble’s mouth.
He downed it without complaint other than a sour face. Ingerith turned to Scorpius and made gestures to indicate different positions of the sun in the sky, then counted out how many doses Lord Thibault must take.
Scorpius accepted the vial with a bowed head. She had once crossly forbid him to call her a lady, but these gestures of respect were the only ways he could think of to signal his understanding.
His heart leapt wildly when she pulled him close to her chest and placed a long kiss on the back of his head. Her skirts rustled, and when he looked up she was already being pulled back up through the window by the guard still waiting outside.
In a heartbeat she was gone, the only indication she’d ever been here being the glass vial in Scorpius’ hand, and the tinge of color finally returning to Lord Thibault’s cheeks.
© Julia Smith, 2011