II

Heddwyn tugged the dressing tight around his hand again. They hadn’t know he was coming exactly, but when his sources said they did not expect any attack and they were prepared enough to rebuff him, something was lacking. That did not mean they failed their attack but it did mean that it wasn’t as successful as he normally  liked.

And it meant he had been injured.

Still, they hadn’t lost anyone and for that he was grateful. He hurried the horse forward a bit more, anxious to get back to camp and Jacey. When things did not go perfectly, somehow, Jacey knew how to make it better.

Finally, the camp appeared. He pushed the horse a bit more and once again absently tightened the bandage. He’d have her look at that cut too when he got back, although he expected it was nothing.

With a nod to the guard, he entered the camp and dismounted. Absently he flicked the reigns towards the horse boy and walked through the camp. Something tugged at the back of his mind, telling him that the camp didn’t feel right, although he could see no problems. Quickly, he made his way towards his tent, searching among them for Jacey.

“Commander!” Major Pauldor ran up to him.

Heddwyn turned. “Yes?”

“Rok Conward is here.”

“Ahead of schedule?”

He nodded. “He arrived several hours ago,”

“Where is Jacey?”

“I believe she is in your tent.”

Heddwyn nodded. “And Conward?”

Major Pauldor paused. “He saw her.”

Heddwyn felt his heart freeze in his chest. “He–”

He nodded. “It was a moment, but it was enough that he is demanding to see her and… take her back.”

Heddwyn looked towards the sky for a long moment before he let out his breath. “I’ll see him soon.” He began to walk towards his tent.

“Heddwyn.”

Heddwyn looked over again. Few called Heddwyn, and only when they had something important to say.

“You’re going to have to let her go back. It’s not worth the argument.”

He nodded curtly, and walked away again.

Jacey looked up when he entered. Immediately, her face relaxed and she stood. He went to her and brushed back her hair. “Are you all right?”

She nodded. “Yes. You–you were hurt.”

He glanced at his hand. “It’s only a small wound.”

“LEt me see.”

He handed it over and she quickly unwrapped it. A minute later, she had his hand in water, gently rubbing the cut clean.

“Major Pauldor said Conward saw you.”

Jacey paused but nodded. “I don’t know how much but…,” she motioned to her stomach with her head. “It’s not hard to miss.”

Heddwyn looked too. Somehow she kept growing, even when it looked like she might burst.

“I’ve stayed here since I heard he came but….”

“You’re probably going to have to go.”

Jacey looked at him. He caught the reflection of tears glistening in her eyes. Gently, he leaned over and brushed them away.

“I’ll do what I can. But even if I can’t, we only have two weeks. Two weeks isn’t that bad.”

Jacey nodded, though he could see her still struggling. He wanted to lash out at something himself, but could not do that, not while Jacey was here.

“You’ll be fine.”

Jacey nodded. “I’ll–I’ll miss you.”

Heddwyn brushed back her hair again and just watched her. “Everyone will miss you.”

Jacey swallowed and pulled his hand out of the water. Deftly, she wrapped it again and tied it up. Then she leaned over and kissed him. “Perhaps you should come back early.”

Heddwyn shook his head. “I can’t.”

“There’s no way?”

“Not unless I’m seriously injured.”

She smiled and ran a hand through his hair. “Hmmm… and we probably don’t want that, do we?”

“No. NOt particularly.”

Jacey smiled again and pulled him close.  He held her, not knowing if they would have another chance like this for the rest of the time here.

“Commander Borut, I demand an explanation.” Conward said as he shoved aside the tent flap. “Particularly as to why you are taking so long.”

Heddwyn turned slowly, keeping a hand around Jacey. “If you don’t mind, Sergeant, we are busy.”

“I actually do mind.” Rok Conward glared first at him and then at Jacey. Obviously, being a lord son made him impervious to remarks about his place. “I have been waiting for three hours.”

“While I have been out. And now I would like to have a few moments with my wife. Private moments.”

“Your wife shouldn’t even be here.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. By directive seven twenty, I demand that I escort her back to Targo City.”

“And by directive twenty-three, I order you leave my tent.” Heddwyn met his gaze steadily. Directive twenty-three meant that any officer of lower ranking must follow any direct order by giving by a superior, so long as it wasn’t unethical.

Rok Conward lengthened his jaw for a moment before he turned and stalked out.

Heddwyn turned and looked at Jacey. “I do believe I have made an enemy. A lord’s son ordered by a blacksmith. Not a very good thing.”

Jacey smiled and kissed him, rubbing his shoulders gently. “I think you already had an enemy.”

He played with her hair absently and nodded. “Perhaps. After what his father did to you.”

Jacey paused and paled. “Yeah.”

“Shhh. It’s okay. YOu’ll be fine.”

She nodded.

He lifted her chin and looked her in her eyes. “It’ll be fine, Jacey. It’s a three-day trip to the capital and then you’ll be fine. And you can stay at either our house or Eva’s. I’m sure Eva will be happy to see you.”

Jacey swallowed and nodded.

Heddwyn paused and then quickly unlashed the knife from his waist. He pressed the knife into her hand. “TAke it.”

Jacey glanced at it. “Your father’s knife?”

He nodded.

“But–”

“Keep it for your safety.”

She looked at him for a moment. “It’s practically a small sword on me.”

Heddwyn brushed back her hair. “Well, at least then you’ll be safe. And I’ll come back for it in two weeks.”

Jacey nodded and swallowed. He rubbed her cheek gently, watching her still.

“Here, help me up.”

Heddwyn stood and offered her a hand. Unsteadily, she rose to her feet, though she still held onto his hand for a moment.

“Shouldn’t you go calm him down now while I pack?”

He nodded. “Probably.”

Jacey stretched her back and began waddling around the tent, gather her things. He watched her a moment, his heart aching at the thought  of when he would possibly see her again.

With a deep breath, Heddwyn pushed opened his tent door. Immediately, Conward approached him.

“Well?”

“I would rather that you would not take her. We have only two weeks left in this assignment.”

“That is against the rules and you know that.”

“I’ve already broken the rules. Another two weeks will do no harm.”

“No. I will not be hanged for this. YOu know as well as I do that I can get in trouble for not brining her back. She is leaving with me tomorrow morning.”

Heddwyn glared at him but nodded curtly. “Very well.” He did not wait for a response and walked away.

–Next

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