Seoc allowed Fiona to clean him up and put him to bed. She was so set on it, it would have been futile to resist her efforts.
“I’m eighteen years ald, Fiona,” he commented dispiritedly as she busied herself tucking him in. “I’m capable of carin’ for myself.”
“O’ course you are, Seocan,” she dismissed him absently, making for the door, carrying a bundle of his clothes, soiled with his blood and urine, under her arm, presumably with the intent of taking them to wash. “Noo wait here. I’ll be back in a moment.”
“An’ if someone should show up wantin’ ta kill me while ye’re gone…?”
“Dinna be silly.”
Seoc failed to see how such a fear was ‘silly’, considering the fact that he had only recently had a knife at his throat, but she was gone before he could put his thoughts into words, so he was left staring stupidly at the door, mumbling disjointed syllables.
“Oh, never mind,” he eventually snapped at the shut door, clambering free of his sheets and out of bed. “Why should anyone ever consider my opinions? I’m just wee baby Seocan. I know nothin’. Nothin’!”
He secured the latch upon the door, and then, remembering how ineffective that measure had been against Henry’s telekinetic abilities, pushed a writing desk against the entrance to serve as a barricade.
“Puir, damaged baby Seocan, with his delicate…unbalanced…emotional…state!” he spat, locking the windows and pulling the curtains shut across them. “Puir baby Seocan must be kept ignorant o’ the real world, or else—” He checked under the bed for any armed maniacs that might be hiding there, then moved on to the wardrobe, pulling the doors open violently. “Or else it might…UPSET HIM!”
He slammed the wardrobe shut; then, confident that there were no potential attackers concealed in his room, he returned to his bed and sat down upon the edge of the mattress, massaging his temples and breathing deeply. He looked around his little bedchamber, remarkably bright in the combination of candle and firelight. It was the same room that he had always had when visiting his aunt and uncle. The same little bed, designed for a child—a child-sized bed which was, depressingly, still large enough for him to sleep in comfortably—with his childhood toys propped up next to the pillows. The same writing desk, now shoved against the door, with the same quills and paperweights upon it. He knew that if he opened the drawer, he would find a stack of morbid pen-and-ink drawings that he had done when he was twelve. Had he looked at them now, he would think them artistically atrocious, but when he had created them, they had seemed beautiful. He resolved not to open that drawer. He wanted to remember those drawings as masterpieces. Gems torn from his tortured preadolescent soul.
Snorting at his own vanity, he shifted his gaze to the bookcase opposite him, and suddenly, he desired to take one of the volumes from the shelf and open it. It had been so very long since he had last encountered a book, or even read more than a few sentences, and now he felt himself pulled slowly toward the shelves as if by magnetic force.
He chose one at random and let it fall open in his hands, automatically bringing the splayed pages close to his face to breathe in the familiar smell. Then he briskly closed it once more and, hugging the book to his chest, padded back to his bed.
The fabric binding was coarse to the touch, smooth where it gave way to decorative lettering: History and Geography of the Carvil Valley. Not the most interesting of reads, to be sure, but still, it was a book, and at this moment, Seoc was too far gone to differentiate between genres. Resisting the illogical urge to taste the cover, he flipped it open again and curled up, catlike, amidst the nest of his bedding and began to read.