The Protector

The air crackled as the large saber came within 200 yards of the Tower. It seemed odd, but with all of the issues with the weather there, the large man shrugged it off. Dismounting, he slowly walked up, nodding unconsciously to the men on either side of the door. He chuckled at himself, as he remembered the illusions in place. Whispering a command to the cat, he entered. The lower floor was dusty, appearing to be ignored mostly. “Lily? You here?” he called up to her. “It’s Dæ!” A crash of glass hitting the floor was the only response.

Alarmed, he worked his way up the ramps as quickly as he was able. Coming to the second floor, he found it tidy and well lit by hundreds of candles. He scanned the area, noting the shelves, piles of cushions and soft fabrics draped from the ceiling. As his gaze came around the curve he saw her desk and the cause of the sound he had heard. Several bottles of ink lay broken on the floor. Frowning, he walked over carefully. Keeping his voice as gentle as possible, he said her name again. “Lily? It’s Dæsin, are you over there?” He peaked across the desk to find her sitting on the floor, her face frustrated, hands shaking. She was still holding her quill and the paper in front of her showed her delicate handwriting, with splatters of ink across it.

After a minute, she looked up at him. “I don’t know why I am even trying today. I can’t get it right, I am making a mess out of all of it. My hands won’t stop shaking…I just…just” Her voice trailed off into quiet sobs. Dæsin careful stepped around the broken glass and sat next to her. He lifted the pen from her hand and wiped her hands off with a cloth sitting there. Then he gathered her up into his arms and let her bury herself into his broad frame.
“Take a break from it, Lilybeth. If you keep trying, you are only going to get more upset.” He kept his voice soft and calm. “Come on now, let’s get away from it. I’ll help you clean it up later.” He worked himself into a crouch and lifted her up.

“I can walk, Dæsin!” her voice sounding even more irritated. She pushed against him, trying to get free of his arms.

“There’s glass everywhere and you have nothing on your feet. Just wait a second. And if you don’t stop struggling, I’ll be forced to toss you over to those cushions instead of being nice and carrying you.” He stepped around the mess over to the sitting area. Checking the floor, he set her down. “Now, put some shoes on before you go anywhere else. At least for now.”

Grumbling, she found her boots and tugged them on. When she looked up, he was holding out a chocolate cupcake and a bottle of ginger wine. Her face softened and she smiled. “You remembered! I haven’t had a cupcake in so long! Is it the kind with the berry filling? You remember what I mess I made with them in Draenor? I thought the baker was going to explode.”

Dæsin smiled lightly. “It is. But I think if you try not to eat it all at once, it will be alright.” He tugged a couple of small mugs out and poured them each a bit of the wine. “I hope you don’t mind a little visit. We haven’t seen each other much since you introduced me to Alsa. And she, well, she…” He flushed deep purple.

Grinning wildly, “She keeps you very busy, doesn’t she? But not as often as she would like to.” She poked the man’s side. “You need to make sure you are around more. She gets lonely and needs attention. Lots of it.”

Dæsin looked at the floor, turning all manner of colors before swallowing. He looked back up at her, but she had focused her attention on the treat in front of her. “Kalithil told me what happened. Gods, Lilybeth! Are you alright? He really didn’t hurt you?”

She froze. Her hand holding the cake up from the plate and her eyes went almost dull. She started to open her mouth, but didn’t make a sound. She shook her head and slowly lowered the cupcake to the parchment. Barely whispering, “He let me go. I didn’t think he was going to, but the only damage was some bruises…from the…the rope. I’m alright.” Her voice dropped away, the last of it almost inaudible.

He reached out, placing his hand over hers. “I’m sorry. There isn’t a good way for me to have brought it up. But I want you to know, I’m here. You can talk to me, or not talk to me, or just eat that cupcake.” She nodded at him. “I am told that I am not to harm him. But I will be stopping in to check on you, from time to time. If that’s alright.” He looked at her, his eyes watching for her approval.

“You don’t have to do that. I’m alright…it’s alright.” The words came out halfhearted, despite her attempts to be sincere.

“Lily. We know you aren’t alright. That’s normal. What happened is not something you should have ever had to deal with. But, please, let us take care of you.” He gently nudged her arm. “You know darn well that I like to do that. It’s why you set me up with Alsabe, right? Because she needed someone to look after her heart?”

Lilybeth smiled slightly. “I am really bad at being sly, aren’t I?” She took a small bite of her cupcake, chocolate crumbs falling onto her dress. “I can’t seem to eat these without making a mess.” She forced herself to smile at him. “Thank you for coming over. I…I’m not doing well with being alone. And Kal can’t always be here. Despite his best attempts. We’d run out of food. And clean clothing.” She sighed. “Promise me you’ll visit with me because you want to, not just because I am a mess?”

He frowned. “I didn’t visit because you are a mess. I came because I care what happens to you. Even if he didn’t hurt you the way he did, I would still come to make sure you were alright. You are my friend. I look after those I care about.” He picked a crumb of cake out of her hair, laughing. “Well, maybe you are a little bit of a mess. Come on, let’s go clean all that up over there.” He started to stand, pushing against the stronger leg.

“You don’t have to do that you know.” She chuckled. She moved her hands quickly, violet light swirling around them. The pieces of glass rose up from the floor, depositing themselves neatly in the pail by her desk. He grabbed a towel and tossed it over the ink, wiping it up.

“I told you I would, but that was rather fun to watch. You’ll have to teach me that trick some time.” He gathered up her papers and dropped them on the desk. “Now, you need to rest. And don’t argue. Half the reason your hands are shaking so much is you are exhausted. Let’s get you comfortable.” He started toward her cushions and she giggled. “What?”

“I…I sleep upstairs. In the big bed.” She paused a moment. “With Kalithil.” She laughed as his face filled with color.

“Well, to the big bed then,” he muttered. He nudged her toward the ramp and she quietly complied. She crawled up into the bed and he tugged off her boots. He placed them by the end of the bed and tucked her in. “Get as much sleep as you are able. I’ll check in on you soon.”

“Thank you Dæ.” Her voice trailed off, sleep already overtaking her. He smiled and patted her leg as he walked away.

“For what you have done for me, it is the least I can do.” He looked back and realized she hadn’t heard him at all. He gathered his bag from the second floor and quietly left.