Chapter 6.1

Later, after everyone had eaten and they separated to go to bed, Rowena and Artem both entered the room they were now sharing with a sense of dread.  Rowena had no idea how to act in this situation and Artem was just feeling awkward.

‘You have the bed,’ they both said in unison.  Rowena giggled nervously, then blushed, hiding behind her hair, a habit that was coming back strongly.

‘Honestly, you take it Artem.  I’m not that tired anyway.’  Rowena moved to sit on the chair by the fire, but Artem blocked her way.

‘I’m not going to let you get away with this one.  It’s not right for a lady to give up the bed to a man.’

‘Well I’m not sure many ladies have been in this situation,’ Rowena mumbled nervously.

‘That’s not the point.  I would feel much better if you took the bed.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep in it anyway.  I’m meant to be keeping an eye on you.’

‘Are you sure?’  Rowena asked one final time, remembering how much she had looked forward to sleeping in an actual bed again.

‘Yes I’m sure.’  Artem moved towards the chair.  ‘This looks far more comfortable.’

‘Don’t say that,’ Rowena exclaimed, ‘you’re making me feel guilty now.’

‘Well beg my pardon for being so rude,’ Artem said, doing another of his sweeping sarcastic bows.

‘Stop it,’ Rowena said, giving him a shove.

‘OK, OK I’m sorry,’ he laughed.  They both smiled at each other and then the silence became awkward.  ‘Well, I think we should get ready for bed.’  Nerves rekindled themselves in Rowena’s stomach.  She had to take her dress off to go to bed, it was the only one she had and didn’t want to live in it.  She knew she’d slept in just her shift with the men before but that time was different.  It was nighttime and she’d been able to slip away into the darkness while the others were sleeping and come back again without being seen.  Now she would have to change in front of Artem.

‘Umm would you mind, umm-’ Rowena gestured with her hands for him to turn around.

‘Of course,’ he replied, putting his hands over his eyes and turning away.  With one eye on Artem, Rowena quickly changed, unlacing her dress and corset and hanging them neatly in the wardrobe.  She climbed into the bed, pulling the covers up tightly to her neck so there was no way Artem could see what she was wearing.

‘OK,’ she said nervously.  ‘I’m done.’  Without a word, or even turning round, Artem began to get ready for bed.  Rowena tried not to look as he took off his outer layers of clothing and folded them into a neat pile on the floor, but when his shirt came off Rowena couldn’t seem to look anywhere else.  She had never seen him in this light before, the firelight bouncing off his toned muscles and giving his skin a glowing orange colour.  She had known Artem was strong but had no idea about just how muscled he was.   But the thing that caught her eyes the most was the horrid jagged scar that ran down his back and around his side in a long line.

‘How did you get that scar?’  Rowena asked without thinking and as Artem turned to look at her she wished she had kept her mouth shut.  His eyes we so sad, they pulled at her heart, making her want to cry.  ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t- I just-‘

‘It’s OK.  I don’t mind you looking.’  He was trying to be light but there was something strained in his voice.  ‘I mean who wouldn’t.’  There was an awkward silence as the nervous laughter died away and neither of them knew what to say.

‘So how did you get it?’  Rowena asked to break the silence.  ‘The scar I mean.’

‘We all have secrets we’d rather not share,’ Artem said softly.  ‘The scar is a reminder of that secret, a memory I’d rather not talk about.’

‘Of course,’ Rowena said.  ‘I’m sorry for prying.’

‘That’s alright, I understand.’  There was another awkward silence before Artem sat down in his chair.  ‘Well I guess it’s time to sleep.’

‘Yeah.  Night Artem.’

Good night Ena.’

Rowena rolled over so her back was towards Artem and the fire.  She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Everything was black and her stomach was filled with the fear she had felt the day Damia had left.  She was scrabbling around in the darkness trying to find something but she had no idea what it was.  Tell me what you know!  Narcissa’s voice rang in her head, Tears flowed down her cheeks as she tried to find some light.  Her hands felt a door handle and pushing with all her strength she pushed it open.  She was back in her room at the tower but Artem was there, and he was fighting with Narcissa.  He was being brave, throwing everything he had at the fairy but her magic was too strong.  With one powerful blast of magic, Artem hit the wall and fell to the floor unconscious.  Rowena was unable to move as Damia moved out of the darkness a dagger in her hand.  She stood over Artem’s still body and raised the dagger.

‘NO!’  She screamed, thrashing around on the bed.

‘Ena, wake up,’ Artem said, trying to hold her down before she hurt herself.  ‘Ena, wake up.’  Her eyes opened and the first thing she saw was his face, staring down at her, concerned.  ‘Are you OK?’

‘Yeah,’ she said, trying to relax, but her muscles were still tensed.  ‘Just a bad dream.’

‘Do you want to talk about it?’

‘No, I just want to forget it.’  She didn’t want to tell Artem that he was featuring in her dreams; that would be beyond awkward.

‘Do you want me to go?’

‘No, can you stay here for a bit,’ Rowena said instinctively.  ‘I think I just need to know there’s someone around for a bit.’

‘Of course.’   Artem lay down, outside the covers, next to Rowena.  ‘I’m here if you need me.’

The End

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