Twenty-nine – 03

[This post is from Neve’s point of view.]

Neve’s heart seized and she grasped for both of his hands. “How do you know that? How do you know? Is it Leinth? Can you sense her?”

“Not only her,” Seamus said, squeezing his eyes shut for a few seconds before he opened them again, meeting her gaze with a weak, rueful smile. “The Hunt, Neve. It’ll never not be a part of me. I can feel when a battle’s joined. There’s an ache in me because I’m not there with them.”

“You are exactly where they need you to be,” she whispered fiercely, squeezing his hands so hard her knuckles went white. Seamus winced slightly and looked away.

“Maybe,” he allowed, his voice little more than an exhaled breath. “Maybe not. The enemy they face is one of my making.”

You did not make Orcus,” Neve said. “Don’t start that. That’s not a burden you need to shoulder. We’ve been over it.”

“Have we?” he murmured, leaning his head back and staring at the ceiling. “I sure as hell don’t remember.”

“Seamus.”

He sighed, closing his eyes again. It was a sigh she’d heard a thousand times when they were young, before their father was gone, before they shouldered as many burdens as they did now.

Not we. Me. Before I shouldered as many burdens. Seamus always seemed to carry the weight of more than his share, even then. Maybe he did and Teague and I just never knew. Maybe. She took a breath. “Seamus, please,” she said softly. “Don’t do that and don’t do this to yourself. For once in your whole bloody life don’t take the weight of a problem onto your shoulders. Please.”

He was silent for what felt like a long time, staring at the ceiling again before he finally spoke. “I don’t know if I can.”

“Try,” Neve said as she squeezed his hands again. “Please. For all of us, just try.”

“All right,” he murmured, then sighed again. It was a different sigh this time, though, one that was quiet, tired, not the familiar long-suffering sigh that she’d heard so often. “I’ll try.”

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