His eyes were burning in to me and I couldn't escape. It was like all my dreams, except this time I wasn't watching the light leave those green eyes, I was watching it enter. He trailed his eyes over my face and I couldn't move away. I watched as he looked and then returned his gaze to mine. Our noses almost brushed in the proximity and I felt my breath catch in my throat.
His hand moved and I snapped away gratefully. Hateful man. But his earlier point had made me unsteady. He had stopped at the execution. Why?
I looked around and listened hard for any noise. The forest was still, even in the breeze, and so I took another step away from him. His eyes followed me and I felt an uncomfortable urge to blush. I wished he'd stop looking at me...
There was nothing around me except the trees. Gratefully I turned away from him and began making my way out of the forest. After a moment I heard him following. He was trying to be quiet but he did not have the skills I had gained from living in the forest all these years. I could still hear him as he moved, and once or twice I heard him pick up the pace so as not to lose me. We passed through the trees in silence, avoiding what had happened.
The fires glowed and Hawks stood on guard. I stopped, seeing Jem alongside them, looking around anxiously. She would be looking for me. Corin almost walked in to me and I jerked away, not wanting to touch him. He looked at me questioningly. I rolled me eyes and stalked off in the other direction. If Jem saw me coming out of the woods with Corin goodness knows what she would think. I heard Corin following and gritted my teeth. Whatever that had been in the forest... His eyes were imprinted in the back of my mind, as they had been since the first meeting, but now they looked down at me with something I was not used to seeing. I couldn't think the word. It wasn't real.
I didn't want it.
"Kate..." He began but I ignored him and picked up the pace. "Kate wait-"
I stopped and glared at him then turned and hurried out of the forest on to the path that led to the village. I picked up the pace and began to run as soon as I heard him step on to it too, and although he followed he soon gave up the run.
"Where've you been?" Jem asked, staring at me anxiously when I arrived, a little breathless.
"How?" She asked and then looked over my shoulder. "The Marshall?" I turned and saw Corin arrive from the same direction I had. He was looking around and I turned back before he could see me, straight faced so that Jem would not suspect that I was in turmoil.
"I gave him the proof he needed."
"And you didn't kill him? Kate, I can't believe-"
"I don't want to talk about it." I interrupted sharply. She glanced at me with her concerned face and I relented. "I need to think about how this is going to work. I don't want to have anything to do with him but if he's going to help then it would not show a united front if we just ignored him, or tried to kill him. Will you continue being in charge while he is here? My feet are better but I don't think I'm ready to make decisions when it concerns him."
Jem looked at me curiously.
"Nothing. I showed him a fae. He made a lot of noise trying to creep through the forest. I may have hit him a few times." I admitted.
"With your fists?"
"I may have tried with a knife."
"Was this before or after you showed him the fae?"
"And he still went with you in to the woods?"
"Yeah." I said. Good point. Why had he done that? I was grateful because now he believed, but... and the memory of our noses almost brushing returned to me again along with the lump in my throat. I cleared it and saw Jem was thoughtfully looking over my shoulder again.
"He's been stopped. I shall go and rescue him. Now that he's on our side I suppose we shall have to let him in. Are you coming?"
"No." I replied. "I'm going to bed."
"That's not like you-"
"-I'm tired Jem. Goodnight." I finished and hurried off. But I did not return to the family who was looking after me, I did not go to the tents. I went to the barn the village owned and climbed to the roof. Sitting on the thatched roof I saw stars amongst the dark sky, and the fires that surrounded the village. I saw people watching, waiting, scared by shadows and bed time stories come to life.
What had happened in the woods? I replayed the moment in my mind. We had laughed - I hadn't laughed for months - and he had gotten a look in his eyes... I couldn't go there. Every time my mind went close to what that look was a pain shot through my foot. But it also shot through my chest. I hated him. I had to. No one could go through what I had and not hate the person who caused that pain. But then he had bandaged my feet, and stopped mid attack just because of me. He had told me so himself.
But I could not trust the word of the Marshall. Only... why else would he have stopped? I gripped the sides of my head in confusion. There was too much going on. My best bet would be to ignore the man when he worked with us, and now that Jem had the lead, I could find no way that I would find that a problem.