The Fionn children were settling into their usual positions after supper. Aislinn took up the chair closest to the fireplace and turned to her hemming. It was a hot summer night, and all she wanted was to be as far away from the fire as possible, but she needed the light to finish her needlework. Her older brothers were crowded around the kitchen bench, taking turns at checkers. The first game that night was between Colum and Cormack. The mischievous twins were trying to outwit each other in strategy, their identical brows furrowed in concentration. Brion and Cathaír lounged on the edge of the bench, chatting about their fencing bouts that day and offering strategies to Colum and Cormack while they waited their turn.
The younger boys were occupied in a game of battle on the kitchen floor. Faolan moved his wooden army through the makeshift battlefield with careful precision, while Padriac’s stone warriors tried to attack as many enemies as possible. Finbar, the youngest, sat on a low stool close by to watch. His broken arm was wrapped in a sling, his eyes intent on his brothers’ game.
Focusing her eyes on the emerald hem of her dress, Aislinn worked her needle in and out of the cloth in a simple stitch. A clumsy seamstress, Aislinn’s hemming was uneven. Working by the flickering light of the fire didn’t help. Her eyes were aching from straining to see, and her fingertip was bleeding from being pricked multiple times. She couldn’t take it anymore. The heat and the stupid hemming were too much. Aislinn dropped the dress into her basket and stood up.
“Are you finished Aislinn? Come over here,” called Brion, her oldest brother.
She made her way over to her brothers, stopping by the water jug to poor herself a drink. Cormack and Colum were arguing about the game.
“He cheated! It’s against the rule to move that piece over there!” cried Colum, his eyes accusing.
“I did not cheat! What do you think Aislinn, is he right or am I?”asked Cormack.
“I think you two should stop arguing, and watch how the game should really be played,” replied Aislinn teasingly, seating herself in Cormack’s place and motioning for Brion to verse her, “You can go first, big brother.”
By then, the younger boys have finished their game and stationed themselves around the kitchen bench, watching the game of checkers between Brion and Aislinn. The pair matched each other in both strategy and cunning, and finally they decided to call the game a draw when the younger boys could no longer keep their eyes open. One by one the brothers left for their bedchambers, until there were only Brion, Aislinn and Finbar left. The little boy was faintly snoring against Aislinn’s body as she and Brion carefully packed the game pieces. After a quick wipe of the table, the three siblings left the kitchen for bed, Brion carrying Finbar and Aislinn following.
After he settled Finbar in bed, Brion walked Aislinn back to her chamber. She bade him good night and started to close the door.
“What is it Brion?”
“I need to tell you something.”