Tharon was woken by the sound of his bedroom door being opened. Or well, the handle being pushed down, as the door itself was silent. Tharon pretended to stay asleep as he slid a hand down to the hilt of his dagger. He kept his breathing deep and steady so he wouldn’t alert the intruder.
A sniffle reached Tharon’s ears and he removed the hand from his dagger even before a pathetic “Dad?” was spoken. He turned around to look at the young boy. Tharon figured he had had another nightmare.
“Come, my son. I will keep you safe.” As he spoke the words, he moved further towards the wall and held up the covers to make room for the boy.
The boy cried as Tharon held him close, stroking his hair until the small, shaking body calmed and the boy was asleep.
Had Tharon not been exhausted and partially drunk, he wouldn’t have slept more that night, as the child was more precious to him than sleep and he would not risk him coming in harms way.
However, Tharon was both of these things, so after sometime, his eyes closed as well.
And that night, his son was not the only one plagued by nightmares.
She was beautiful. He couldn’t deny it. He never could. But lately he found himself noticing even more. He had other friends who were girls. And he often found himself thinking they were beautiful too.
But not like this. Because Maryann was beautiful in a whole different way. A way that had him staring in awe as she danced around in the field of flowers she loved so dearly. The sun caught in her hair and lit it up in strands of gold. Like honey, he thought.
He could hear her laugh as she spun, her dress flowing around her as if it was made of silk.
But it wasn’t. It was made of patches. Her skin was not fair like the ladies who lived his father’s mansion, but tan from being exposed to the sun. Her hands were rough from working and her bare feet dirtier than the hoofs of his horse.
But her laughter were pure and to him, her beauty was too. She was like an unpolished jewel, and he was afraid someone would someday try to polish her, grinding away those imperfections that made her so utterly perfect.
He walked towards her. She was now sitting at the table in the house they bought for the money he stole from his father when his father refused to let him have her.
Her hair didn’t shine even when the morning sunlight fell though the windows and onto her. She didn’t say, but he knew she was afraid. Afraid that he would leave her, now she wasn’t beautiful anymore, with dull hair and tired eyes. But to him she had never been more beautiful, as she smiled down at the infant, who looked at her with curious brown eyes, so very much like his own.
And that’s when he knew he was happy.
The dream changed again. He had been out hunting. He had hung the hare on the hook he had forced into the wall of the stable for that very purpose.
Panic started to rise as he slowly opened the door to their bedroom. He called her name. She didn’t answer. Knew why, but his dream self didn’t. And he couldn’t stop walking towards her, gently placing his hand on her should, softly calling her named until he looked at her face and-
Tharon woke, bathed in sweat, his breathing fast and uneven. He closed his eyes, trying to calm his breathing, but most of all he was trying to chase the picture of her dead eyes, widened in terror, her mouth frozen mid scream and her body, naked and abused in the corner.
As his breathing steadied, he became aware of the third person in the room.