I spent most of my time in the forest these days, hunting, gathering, staying out of the way. I was a lone wolf, and whatever orders I gave met no resistance.
It wasn't that I'd given up on our cause. It wasn't even heartbreak, which is what most thought it was. It was deliberate separation. I'd realised that my casual approach to leadership had caused trouble, let everyone become to casual. I knew that people weren't happy with me for breaking them from the guards so harshly but... it had just happened.
It had to be that way.
I'd found the forest again, become part of it again. I'd drifted before, becoming too entangled with the outside world. I worked on the new camp while others slept, I stayed in trees and followed tracks, disposed of fae bodies that could still be found in some places. I found that after a while I regained the ability to move with absolute silence through the forest, to the extent that sometimes I could be above either camp in the trees, or following a group of Hawks and no one would notice.
But I was drawn to the village, to check on its people. And on my trip, protected by the hood I wore, I witnessed Corin... the Marshall, helping. So our alliance had changed things. For a moment it was as though he saw me but I slipped away. The act of kindness had shifted things for me though. Now my mind, which I had previously managed to shift from Corin, had slipped back to him. His change. His behaviour. The way he moved and...
I waited till night fall and crept silently through the trees. The Hawks were not patrolling the forest, not since we were sure the guards were leaving us be. The guards at Corin's home were easy to slip past, and I climbed, as I had done months before, through his window.
He lay sleeping in his bed, the cover around his waist and his chest bare in the moonlight. I grinned. It was just as before. I slipped over to him and removed his knife, as I had done before, and held it to his throat. He woke when the flat of the blade touched him. One start and then his eyes focussed on me.
"Should I even bother checking for my knife?"
"No." I grinned, slamming the blade through the wood of the bedside table so it pierced it, standing upright. "You really shouldn't."
"What are you doing here Kate?" He asked, sitting up. I felt everything returning to how they had been in those few stolen moments... "No, wait... I expect your friends are robbing me this instant yes?"
"Wrong." I chuckled gleefully. "I'm on my own."
"No back up?" He raised an eyebrow.
"But how will the Hawks know where there precious leader is?" He asked.
"Does it matter?" I asked. A scar on his chest caught in the moonlight and I placed my cool fingers against it. "It's healing well."
"Better than other wounds." He replied. I glanced at him.
"I came to apologise. I... it was abrupt. But there was really nothing that could be done."
"Nothing?" He questioned me. I stood, frowning and paced to the end of the bed, fiddling with the bedpost.
"Nothing. We couldn't..."
"Couldn't? In the past?" He threw is legs out of bed, and followed my path to the end of the bed.
"No?" I murmured as his fingers found their way in to my hair and his rough thumb trailed against my bottom lip gently. My brain fogged; the touch of him brought everything back, made the bad things fall away.
"You don't sound so sure." He continued to stroke my lip, my cheek... with his thumb.
"You're distracting me."
"Good." He grinned and reached down to press his lips to mine. It was welcome, after so long, and I found my arms wrapping around his neck before I could stop myself, and my back was being pressed in to the bedpost by his muscles.
"Stop!" I gasped as he relinquished my lips. "Stop..."
"Are you sure?" He replied, his voice husky.
"Yes." I replied, placing a hand on his chest. Then more firmly, "yes."
"Shame." He grinned and I rolled my eyes.
"This wasn't supposed to happen."
"I don't think the whole thing was supposed to happen Kate... my little Hawk..."
"I have to go."
"You could stay."
"No, I couldn't." I replied firmly. I only came to apologise. I've done that and now..."
"Now what? You'll disappear again?"
"Yes." I shrugged sympathetic.
"Because there's such a change now. We've made a difference... think how much we could accomplish if you stayed."
"I can't. I'm sorry." I replied, escaping him and heading for the window.
"You could. If you wanted to."
"But I don't." I replied. "I know where my duty lies. It is with my women, even if they don't like me, even if some of them are heartbroken, or eating for two now..."
"And what that's my fault?"
"Then don't suggest it as a reason to stay away."
"Corin... I have to go. I need to go back to the Hawks, be a more present leader. I've avoided my duty since you left but now... I should take charge again."
"So I should expect more raids?"
"I'm not willing to give you inside information."
"Not even after that kiss?" He joked, grinning at me.
"Not even..." I winked. "Goodbye."
"Kate wait..." He called but I had already hopped out of the window. Rolling down the thatch and on to the floor in a crouching position I allowed my moments breather before I began to run back to the forest to whisper:
Then I took off in to the night, back to my Hawks and where I belonged.