9. 7 - Extract from the Diary of Captain Thomas Rogue
It took a while to finally reach relative safety. But here we were, in the dense, humid bog that boiled over in the day but froze with cold at night. Only, this time, Midnight didn't complain as much. She didn't speak much, for that matter, and it worried me. She had always struck me as a sharp-tongued woman who loved the sound of her own voice - but the incident at the Fountain had silenced her.
Perhaps, after knowing her for so long, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me - but when does Midnight stop surprising you?
It was dark when I'd gathered some food and brought it to her. She took it and ate in silence, staring intently at the fire we sat around.
“It's cold tonight, eh?” I asked, trying to stir some conversation, “Do ye want my coat?”
“No, I'm... I'm alright,” she murmured.
I had to ask her, “Midnight, ye haven't said a sentence that ain't longer than three words in days! What's the matter?”
“Nothing. I'm fine.”
“Don't lie t'me!” I said, worry eating through my skull, “Don't hide things from me! Midnight?” I touched her hand.
I chewed my bottom lip and closed my eyes, “Did... did I do something?”
She looked away, “It's stupid, Thomas...”
“Woman, you are married to the world's biggest pillock, you've nothin' to fret.”
Midnight made like she was going to say something, but then shook her head.
I narrowed my eyes at her, “Is this what we are now? Midnight, I'm Thomas. The same Thomas. Your Thomas. The one ye could tell anythin',” I tried again to touch her hand. She looked at the gesture, but didn't flinch, “The one that loves ye more than anyone in the world,” I shook my head, “I haven't changed, that hasn't changed.”
“I... guess I know that,” she said, slowly looking up at me.
“Please: tell me what's the matter. Let me make it right.”
She shook her head, “It's nothing. I'll get over it.”
“Just... Let me help.”
“It's not even your fault.”
“When... you drank from the Fountain of Youth... you lost it,” Midnight bit her lip, and then shook her head. Her face darkened, and I couldn't tell if she was upset or angry. It was a scary look, “You hit me.”
I paused, not even hearing the words correctly. That couldn't be right... could it?
“You... hit me. You hurt me.”
“...I,” the words fell out of my mouth, trembling, “hurt you?”
Midnight sighed, “I told you, it's nothing.”
I was speechless. I didn't know what to say, didn't know if I should say anything at all. This was something entirely inexcusable - a man hitting his wife. I punched the ground, at a loss for word, action, thought even.
“It's not nothin',” I replied, “This isn't nothin'.”
She looked at me sadly, “I know it wasn't your fault, Thomas.”
“Where'd I hurt you?”
She paused and then gestured to her face. I touched it and felt her move ever so slightly in discomfort. It was bound to bruise.
“Damn...” I muttered.
She touched my hand, “I'm alright.”
“Which sorry bastard hurts his wife, eh?” I shouted, “Which bloody sorry bastard? I'd travel the world just t'hunt down every man who's hurt his woman, and now I've done't?” I looked at her, “To you? Midnight...”
“Stop, Thomas. I'm fine,” she said, “it wasn't your fault.”
“That isn't the point. Midnight, I love ye. Maybe longer than ye've loved me - but what in Hell will make this right?”
She sniffed, “Time.”
“I'm so sorry.”
Her eyes clouded and she embraced me.
I held her close and stroked her back, “It'll ne'er happen again. Devil curse me, it won't. I promise.”
She sniffed, her voice shaking, “You smell so much nicer as a young man.”
All the tension and anxiety burst out of me in laughter, “I'm glad to have ye back t'your mockery!”
She pulled away and rubbed her eyes, “All those stories... You always told me about how dashing you were before I cut your face,” she touched my jaw, running a finger along the area that had been marked by that god-awful scar. I felt a pleasant spasm run through me, “I never believed you, you know,” she put her finger to my lips, “You're many things, Thomas, but you certainly aren't a liar.”
I blinked. Her face looked so beautiful, illuminated in the moonlight, the light catching her long-abandoned smile. The scar that had adorned her lip was gone - but it had suited her, made her look fierce. She would be far more dangerous now - innocent as she appeared, perhaps looking younger than thirty.
I brushed back her dark hair, and kissed her softly, “I'm not exactly one t'compete wi' you,” I murmured, “A man would look into those large dark eyes o' yours and happily die there. And if he e'er got t'see more, well, he'd gladly die twice.”
She laughed, “I'm not the most beautiful woman in the world, Thomas.”
“Ye're many things, Midnight. But you certainly aren't honest.”
She pushed me back playfully and rested her head on my chest. I breathed deeply, looking up at the sky.
“Feels different bein' young, don't it?” I asked.
She muttered her agreement but added, “At least now we can return to our home, to madness I can actually deal with.”
“You and home!” I chuckled, “I'm sure everyone is fine.”
Midnight put a hand on our kit and took out the canister of healing water, “With this, everyone will be.”