1: And The Dust Settles

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The hug could've lasted forever, and Sophie wouldn't've minded. She would much rather have held onto Fitz than find Dex and Biana, only to learn that Tam was dead.

After Sophie and Fitz broke apart, they had gone to Sophie's room because she knew that Dex would want to take Biana somewhere he knew well so he'd have the upper hand - a military strategy. They'd arrived to find guards already at the door, pounding on it and swearing that they were going to break it down if Dex didn't let them in. Sophie and Fitz had arrived at the perfect moment to hear Dex yell, "I cannot confirm you are who you say you are, and until you unlock the door or break it down, you will not be coming in!"

Fitz had hurriedly stopped the guards and ushered them aside, asking Dex to open the door, but Dex argued that he and Biana had no clue if Fitz was being held against his will. Sophie then stepped in, whispering behind her hand to Fitz's ear, "Let me talk to him. Pretend to link our minds."

Fitz nodded and then she stepped back. He placed two fingers on her temples for show, and closed his eyes as she linked her mind with Dex's, "Dex, it's us. It's over. The attackers are gone."

Sophie didn't hear anything on the other end of the mental connection, but she did hear grunting and the sound of of something heavy being moved before the door opened, revealing Dex with about half of his armor off, his arms, and the skin underneath his white tunic bright red like he'd been badly sunburned, while his face was pink enough that he looked like he'd run a marathon. Dex dropped his sword and pulled Sophie into a tight hug, whispering, "I'm glad you're okay."

"What happened to you?" Sophie asked as Fitz moved past them to see Biana.

"I slayed the dragon, had to climb up the neck while it was hot from the fire," Dex said shortly, "I'll get new armor made soon, but right now we've got bigger problems."

"What?"

Sophie then turned to Biana, who Sophie, for the first time, noticed was crying. Fitz gathered his sister into his arms, asking her what was wrong, but Biana never answered. Fitz looked to Dex helplessly, and Dex turned to the guards still waiting outside of the room, announcing, "Lord Tam is dead. You five, come with me, we need to retrieve his body."

A sickly silence fell over the room, save for Biana's sobs and the clanking of armor and Dex and the guards left. Fitz held his sister tightly, and slowly, Sophie made her way over to them, in a daze.

Sophie never really interacted with Tam, but she knew that he was a good man who loved his wife and their child. Their child. Sophie suddenly realized that the baby would now never know his father, and that Biana would have to go through the rest of the pregnancy without the support of her husband, that Biana would have to raise the child as a single mother. The hard truth sunk to Sophie's stomach like a rock as she sat next to her friend, knowing full well that Biana would have many hardships to go through in the upcoming years. Quietly, Sophie promised herself that she would be there to help Biana however she could for as long as she needed it, because Biana was always there when Sophie needed her most, and now it was Sophie's time to return the favor.

Sophie started with gently moving the princess's hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ears so it wouldn't stick to her face with the tears. Sophie then took the flower out of her bun and undid the ribbon Biana tied around the base of it earlier, holding it in her hand as she began to carefully braid Biana's hair. The princess's wavy black locks were frizzy from the strains of the attack, and Sophie did her best to braid them smoothly, even though it was only a simple braid, which she secured the golden silk around the end in a careful bow.

When Sophie finished, she looked up at Fitz, who had tears streaming down his cheeks as well as he silently comforted his sister. He looked exhausted, blood on his cape and vest, his bright eyes dull with sadness. Sophie didn't know how close he was to Tam, but she could safely assume that they were probably good friends even before Tam married Biana. Sophie then stood up and unclasped Fitz's cape, carefully slipping it off of his shoulders, and folding it neatly, setting it aside to be washed later. She then coaxed Fitze to slide off his vest, helping him undo the buttons so that he could still hold onto his sister, who he clutched to his chest protectively.

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