"She's not- doing well," Lachlan states, worriedly.
"Aye, I can see that," MacCallan snaps back, irritated.
"Well, what the hell are ye concocting now?"
There's no answer. I'm awake but I can't move. I'm unable to open my eyes. For a moment, I fear that I'm dead, still stuck in this life, observing them.
But my arm tugs and there's hand in mine. Of that much, I am sure.
"The witch- she told her... said to steer clear of me. I should have let her go. I-"
"Aye, ye should have." After a moment, there's a deep sigh. "I also can- understand... how does a man turn away from something so rare? So...perfect."
"I became a monster- for her," Lachlan says. "Whatever I had to be... to make her stay."
"Ye took something that wasnae yours, Lachlan."
"Aye? Are ye saying she's yours?"
"She was- then. I dinnae ken about now... She is a changed woman. She was a bud then, still growing. Now... she's bloomed, blossomed into herself. Radiantly."
"What are ye doing?" Lachlan says, sharply.
"I'm coating this onto the wound. It will ease the pain, although the fever may keep her delirious enough to feel nothing."
"Is that a good thing?"
"Nay, she needs to feel... That is vital."
"I wish she'd wake up..."
I hear a chair push back and desperately try to flicker my eyelids, do something to see.
"I have to be off in the morn," Lachlan announces, low.
"Aye... As do I... Tell me, Lachlan, how are ye going to explain stabbing your own wife?"
"... Níl fhios agam." I don't know.
"Ye will stay with her."
"Ní mór duit a bheith ag magadh..." MacCallan answers, awed.
"I am serious. Ye are the best equipped to save her. Her fever still runs high- I cannae leave knowing she will die... I trust ye will not let her."
"If ye love her- as you say ye do-"
" Of course I will stay."
"... Rejoin when she is out of danger."
There's a creak in the floorboards. "I'd- like a moment alone... with her."
There's no answer but the swinging of the door.
Suddenly, there's a finger caressing my cheek. I feel it, and immediately know it's Lachlan's.
"Gillian... just- open your eyes. Let me ken your thoughts. I wish I could read minds. Yours. I'd never forgive myself if I lost ye."
He clasps my hand tightly.
"I dinnae even ken what ye like and I'm- sorry. I'm a selfish fool... I'll never deserve ye- like he does... but I cannae give ye to him. I cannae. I can try harder. I can, I promise."
Lips press to my face, his breath uneven as he kisses me repeatedly, sweetly.
"I need ye to live. Please, I dinnae care if he's the one who brings ye back. Just- as long as ye come back to me."
"Ann, we're not going to bleed her."
"She will not be bled. It will surely kill her."
"Then what else can we do? She's been like this for days! The tenants are panicking!" Ann's voice rings, desperately.
"Tell them she's recovering, slowly. I'm testing a balsam now that should cure this."
"You're the most accomplished healer in Scotland! Why can ye not heal her?"
"Her wound is infected, Ann! Sometimes, there is just noth-" He stops himself, his voice echoing around us. "She will live, I can assure ye that... Just- leave me be."
"Lift her head... Aye. Not too far," Callan whispers, as my head tilts forward. "Gillian, ye need to swallow this. It's been days... you've not had food."
"She's not awake," Ann says, frustratedly.
"Aye, she is."
"How can ye tell?"
There's cold metal against my lips and I try to open them wider, to no avail. The liquid heats my chin, scaling down my throat onto the fabric covering my body.
There's a sudden bang of metal clashing against the wall and I hear a startled yelp from Ann. "Damn it all!"
"I dinnae ken what else to do! I've- I've saved thousands I dinnae give a damn for but cannae save the one I do!"
"Dinnae say that! We can figure-"
"She's as gray as the sky outside, Ann! Do ye not see?"
There's the sound of a man, overcome, sobbing. A man cornered into something that he can't get out of, something that means to tear him apart, no matter how hard he tries to deter it.
"I've loved no one but her, Ann! He says he is the monster. Nay... I am. For leaving her here, knowing what he'd do!"
"No one meant for this to happen... No one could have known-"
"I did! I did, Ann and I'll never forgive myself!"
"Where are ye going?! MacCallan!"
Lips press to my temple, soft and warm. A hand pushes the damp hair from my face and a part of me, glows from the inside.
"Mo ghaol, please," Callan whispers thickly, his wet cheek pressed to my hair. "Please... I need ye."
A/N: I know this is short! Double updating tonight! :D
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Two very different worlds. Two very different men. And one woman who has to choose between the life that she knew and the one that lies ahead... ----------------------------------------------------------------- Gillian Clarke finds herself thrust...