Everyone was asleep except Gwydd and her tribe. As the month passed, they had kept to the Greenhouse, working and patrolling. But Gwydd wasn't up keeping watch. She paced. And paced, twisting her dreads in her fingers much like Ion did when the little girl was speaking. Her pulse stampeded through her veins, driven by a pounding heart.
She couldn't go through with it, Lady Joan of Wad, she just couldn't. Her palm connected to her face in a gesture of hopelessness. Tomorrow was the New Moon, and they would leave for the Citadel, bringing Hadron with them. As a human, his lifespan was already so short – she didn’t want to be responsible for making it shorter.
Gywdd scuffed at the concrete floor, wondering if she should say anything to him. Making up her mind suddenly, she turned toward his bunker on tip-toe. Gathering calmness about her so that her words didn’t rush together again, she closed her eye and took a deep breath then rapped.
“Ow! What the—?” Hadron stood in the doorway looking down at her tiny fist beating on his chest.
Gwydd leapt backward like a cat startled, a tiny exclamation muffled behind the hands that flew to her mouth. “Ohmygosh!” She darted forward again brushing at Hadron’s shirt, a rush of words hushing in still air. “Sorry! I’m so sorry!”
“Gwydd,” he rubbed at one sleepy eye with a knuckle as she was now trying to straighten his rumpled tee-shirt. “Gwydd!” Hadron grabbed her hands, forcing her to pause. “What are you doing here at this hour?? We have to leave in the morning.”
“Me? What are you doing answering the door at this time of night?” Had he been expecting someone?
Hadron chuckled lowly so as not to wake Ion. “Ah…the biffy.”
“Oh.” she blushed then, feeling quite sheepish.
“That explains me,” he slowly lowered her hands, then scrubbed his fingers through the hedgehog perched on his scalp, yawning. “So what about you? Do pixies commonly go around beating on men’s chests in the middle of the night?”
“Yeah,” she retorted. “Right before we drag them back to our caves.”
Hadron paused, fingers stuck in his brown hair. “Really?”
“What? No!” Gwydd blushed. “Don’tberidiculous.”
“I just – it’s the snowdust. IknowIaskedyouto,” the words rushed over themselves, despite her best efforts. The human tongue just wasn’t meant for pixie-speak. “It was only because I trusted you. We can find someone else, someone that I don’t – I just can’t put you through it.”
Hadron marveled at how the dread pixie could go from ass-kicking to fretting in a matter of seconds. “Hey.”
She looked at his hands on her shoulders. “Yeah?”
“It will be alright.” the warmth of his touch spread to his smile. “For fae? Probably not so great, but remember, that stuff was made for us humans to keep on doing it. If anything, it is made to be slow death, over a long time.”
There was a traffic jam of words in Gwydd’s mouth, so instead, she threw her arms around his neck. The gardener caught her hug, the resonance of easy laughter in his chest calming her. “Besides,” he smiled. “I’ve got you to protect me.”
Aye, she thought to herself. That you do.