Sevear stared at her over the fire. She ate her food in silence, staring at either the ground or the sky. It had been years, onse that seemed to go deliberately slow. They'd left the day he'd named Marcel the new leader. The boy had been unusually somber, which was so unlike his rowdy, energetic spirit. Everyone had agreed to the selection, which was a main part in selecting a new sire…and mostly why it had never happened before. Everyone related to Marcel cried, you may be assured. And while Sevear had no living blood relatives, only his dearest and closest companions shook for him.
He stood next to Marcel as the people he had once led greeted the boy and graciously said goodbye to himself, saying he was the greatest man they'd ever followed. Sevear nodded throughout their goodbyes, looking over the field to the woman he loved, who sat on a pure black horse, holding the reins of his own in her hands. She, in return, looked straight at him. The look was filled with so much hatred, sadness, and regret that Sevear did not know whether he should go with her alone or not.
But he had. And now they were far, far away from his home. He had lost count of the lengths they'd traveled so far.
Sa stood, brushing off the back of her breeches, and looked around their camp.
"Tis getting late. I'm off." She announced.
"Sa, please wait." He said, standing as well. Sa turned as he approached her and took a concurrent step away.
"Please." He whispered. "You have no need to go so far away to sleep."
"I will be the one to choose that." She replied curtly. Sevear took her hands in his and she stiffened.
"You promised you'd never touch me." She said shakily. She could not—would not—think of what her husband could do to her, for he was much stronger and quicker than she.
"Why are you frightened of me?" he asked quietly. Sa turned her head and snorted…that type of snort people so often use when bitterly amused.
"Shall I list the reasons?" she said hatefully. Sevear made a nod with his head and she went on.
"You kidnapped me. You ignored me, like you hated me. You chased me and caught me." She looked away as she got ready to say the last thing. When she looked back, she knew he knew what she would have said, so she didn't say it. He pulled away and turned, striding off into the darkness.
He wouldn't speak to her for the start of the ride the next day. The awkward silence hung about until she would say something, or try to start a conversation. His short answers made it impossible to keep one going. She gave up at about noon, when they stopped for lunch. Sevear went away and came back with a rabbit. Sa tried thinking of all the reasons why she hated him as she slyly looked at him from across the fire.
His black hair cast shadows on his sharp, handsome face. His eyelids were lowered halfway, but the breathtaking green eyes beneath them were still visible. He sat with the posture of a defeated man, yet one with still his pride and dignity.
And as she looked at him, her hatred and regret would not come. So instead she thought of all the things she enjoyed in their time together. Which is why she was startled when he stood.
"Let's go." He ordered. Sa blinked, noticing the dying fire. She stood and followed him to where their horses were.
They rode for what seemed like forever to her, with that silence hanging heavily on her conscience. It was only when Sevear stopped abruptly that she began to panic. His arm cut her question off quickly, and his dark gaze warned her to be quiet.
They sat still in the growing darkness for minutes that seemed hours, until what he heard appeared. One, two, fifteen. They came out of the forest in two lines, haphazard but orderly.
Sa watched him stiffen. He dismounted and drew his sword, then slapped the horse's backside sharply. It ran off, into the cover of brown and green. Many of the newcomers laughed. She heard a few 'I told you so' and 'aha!' as the group stopped moving.
Sevear backed to her horse's side stealthily and grabbed her wrist, pulling her head down, next to his. They were approaching quickly now, swords reflecting what little moonlight there was.
"If you ever loved me," he whispered oh-so quietly. "Leave."
He looked at her, his eyes begging her to leave. Pleading so urgently, hoping to all the gods she had in truth loved him, so she could not stay. And hoping she was honest, because he knew Sa was stubborn.
"Circle back." He said, his voice urgent now as the men drew nearer. "I'll meet you by the lake in five days."
Sa laid her cold fingers on his shoulder before urging her horse forward. She leaned against its neck.
Then Sa cried softly as she heard the swords meeting, knowing she had left him for dead.
"Where the hell is he?" she asked herself quietly, marking the stick with one more tally as the dawn of the sixth day approached. The food was growing scarce, the wood damp as the Thaw began.
Doubts had been racing through her mind during all the hours she waited. He had not been able to take ten men, so why would he conquer fifteen?
Sa waited for ten days before packing her horse and leaving. She had no idea where she would go, but she ended up going to her inherited home.
When she got there, it was empty. The gardens were overgrown, the rooms empty. Dust had collected on everything.
As she walked upon the grounds, her land, she came upon three graves. Tana Minor, who had died two years after she had left Sa at Sevear's camp. Benjamin Minor, Tana's husband, who had died days after Tana by contracting the fever she had. And their baby, Lewis Minor III. The toddler had died within hours of his mother.
Sa fell to her knees and wept for the last person she had known from her normal life. She sobbed for the loss.