Sarah stood for a long while at the door, but no Good night my love came through. She turned and nearly jumped to see Lady Abigail standing there.
“Come child,” the woman beckoned her up the stairs, “we ought to prepare you for your role tomorrow.”
Sarah obediently followed, wondering what on earth there was for preparation that Lady Abigail could help with. They met Margaret, arms loaded with clothing and fabric strips, at Sarah's bedroom door.
“This was all I could find, My Lady.” Margaret dumped her load on the bed.
Lady Abigail sorted through it all. “Well three sets of clothing will have to do. Margaret, would you please bring me the shears.”
“Do I have to?” Margaret asked looking concerned at Sarah.
“Yes,” Lady Abigail stated.
Suddenly Sarah knew what had to happen, though it made tears spring to her eyes. Strange as that was considering she’d cut her hair once already. Still it was only just beginning to grow back in. And judging by the hair cuts of Troop Phoenix, her hair was about to become shorter than she’d ever dreamed of having it. Will I always have short hair,she wondered as Margaret returned with the shears. Holding them above Sarah’s head Lady Abigail stood ready to make the first snip.
“Are you sure you wish to do this?” Lady Abigail asked Sarah.
Sarah turned from the window to face Jason’s mother. “Jason has staked his career on this. He has faith I can succeed, so I must too. Besides, I owe him,” Sarah sighed and looked back out the window, past her reflection. “Big time,” she whispered and her eyes focused on Lady Abigail’s reflection. “What is this sacrifice compared to all that he has sacrificed for me?”
The woman nodded. As locks of Sarah’s hair fell to the floor Lady Abigail spoke. “I do not think," she looked at Sarah's reflection, "that my son’s sacrifices have been in vain.”
Sarah closed her eyes, hoping that Jason’s mother was right. With each snip of the shears she brought up a memory of her days in the Grove. Her mind ranged through time; from Jay’s first appearance to his last. She remembered times spent in aimless chatter and times spent discussing serious matters. And, Sarah opened her eyes, times spent when he comforted her. Rarely had it been the other way around, in fact she couldn’t think of a time when she had comforted Jason.
“There,” Lady Abigail set the shears down.
Sarah stood, leaning forward she shook her head, hands running through her very short hair. She barely recognized herself when she turned and looked into the the small mirror Lady Abigail held for her.
“Gods help me,” Lady Abigail whispered as Sarah stripped.
Together they worked out a method to bind her breasts. By the time Sarah had perfected the binding and donned the shirt and pants there were tears in Lady Abigail’s eyes.
Hugging Sarah in an odd display of affection Lady Abigail whispered, “May the Gods keep you,” before she turned and hurridly left the room.
Sarah sighed and closed the door. She readied herself for bed, praying she’d be able to pull off being male for a whole month. Clothed in her chemise she looked out her window. Tomorrow she’d be sleeping in the training barracks with a bunch of boys. Climbing into bed Sarah curled up to get, what might be, her last peaceful night of sleep.