Thirty-two – 02

[This post is from Thom’s point of view]

The words haunted him, even days later. Brighíd had noticed but not asked, a mercy for which he was silently grateful. He had no desire to tell her what her brother had told him, no desire to watch her face as she came to realize that her brother had become some sort of prophet of the end of their world as they knew it.

That realization would come in time, but at least he wouldn’t be the bearer of that news.

He heard the crunch of boots against the gravel of the path, though he didn’t turn. The tread was familiar. Finn took one breath, then another, fingers flexing around the haft of his bow.

“Anything?” she asked as she drew abreast of him, standing to his right, near enough to touch, near enough to hear the sound of her breathing over the sound of the crashing waves below and the wind coming off the water.

He shook his head. “No. Nothing yet. But they’re coming. I can feel them.”

“Can you?”

He inclined his head slightly, offering a brief, if small smile. “In a matter of speaking.”

“Mm.” She stared off over the water, though he knew she was watching the sky more than the waves. “Come back,” she murmured. “I’ll set someone else on the watch.”

“I told you I’d—”

“We took a boar today,” she said, interrupting him as if he hadn’t spoken. “Cíar and I. It was like old times. They’re roasting it right now.” Brighíd’s fingers slid into his, squeezed. “Come back to the encampment, Finn. They won’t be here tonight.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do,” she said softly, then tugged at his hand. “Come. Sit with us and remember better days.”

He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it, not looking at her, gaze still on the horizon. “Better days will come again, Brighíd.”

“I know,” she said. “But I fear they’ll be long in coming. Come. I’ll set another watchman.”

“I’ll come when he’s relieved me,” Finn said. He finally looked at her, risked a faint smile. “Go on. Knowing you, I know it won’t be long.”

She gave a slight nod and squeezed his hand before she let go. “Of course it won’t be.”

Finn nodded and watched her as she walked away before his gaze shifted back to the horizon, to the water.

Perhaps she was right, perhaps they wouldn’t be here today, but it was only a matter of time.

In this, time was not their ally—it was their enemy, one that could not be vanquished as they’d handled so many before. The enemy that would come, though, that would be a different matter entirely.

Of that much, he was certain.

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