What seemed like an eternity later, Ariana thought that she had dreamed the whole thing…until she rolled onto her back. She let out an agonized groan which brought Pirata over to her. Her head felt stuffed with cotton and she asked the time, at which he told her that she had been asleep for 2 nights and a day…She saw something in the old man’s eye that almost made her ask about the rebel leader…but she hadn’t even uttered the question when he answered her anyway.
“Ari blames himself for you getting hurt.” Well no kidding…It WAS his fault! “You really should’ve stayed inside, Ariana.”
“I couldn’t have let him kill your son, Pirata. I just couldn’t….” He patted her arm.
“He wouldn’t have gone that far. And I have more older and wiser sons who could take Vulpes’ place.” She wanted to ask another question, but a rap sounded on the door. Aristotles came in and, ignoring her, asked Pirata how she was…He shrugged.
“Then take your leave, old friend. There’s real coffee brewed.” The one eye stretched and yawned and left the two of them alone in HER room. Aristotles looked tired and she squashed the slight tinge of feeling sorry for him. Helen told her later that he hadn’t slept since the incident and had paced the house asking after her every five minutes. He closed the door after his friend had left, then came closer to collapse into an over stuffed chair by her bed. He rubbed the back of his neck, then took one of her hands in his. It was rough and calloused, but felt like it belonged there…”Oh NO!!!” Her inner voice screamed…”This was NOT going to happen!” Ariana closed her fingers tentatively tighter around it. The rebel leader shifted in the chair so that he was looking directly down at her. There were dark circles under his eyes and he didn’t appear as if he had shaved in quite a while either. “He’s actually pretty cute” she thought. “Scruffily cute.” He ran his free hand through his cross cropped blond hair and tried to stifle a yawn.
“Maybe you should get some sleep, too.” She finally said, after finishing her inspection of him.
“I can’t…” he stated simply.
“Because it’s all YOUR fault…”
“What?!! My fault! I saw the blood lust in your eyes…you would’ve killed the boy! And the punishment no way NEAR fit the crime…”
“I cannot have dissension in the ranks!”
“But he’s only a child…
“He’s a half score and six years and has been with us for 3 years now. He should know better to hold his tongue by now…”
Three years!!! And they were just hearing about a rebellion NOW?! Stupid state run media…
“Nice of you to be stealing children for your rebellion.”
“Look, I won’t get into this right. I’m too tired to have an around the sundial argument with you.” His grip loosened and his eyelids fluttered shut.
“Now what“, she thought. “Should I wake him? He can’t stay here, even if he’s asleep and I would hope he’d know that I’m not…” She couldn’t finish the ridiculous way her mind was going.
Gritting her teeth and pushing the light linen sheet back, she rolled over and swung her feet out of the bed. She smirked at the surprised expression he had when she poked his shoulder and his eyes flew open.
“Take the bed, I’m done with sleeping…”she said. “It won’t be the first time I’ve slept in that chair.”
“But your back…”
“It really doesn’t hurt all that much.” She grimaced as a fold of her way too short, way too sheer summer cotton nightgown scraped across one of the wounds.
“There’s plenty of room.” The rebel leader looked between the bed and her.
“For the both of us…”
Ariana must’ve looked absolutely petrified, like Medusa had just peeked in the window, because he changed the subject. “Let me check your dressing.” She turned around, not wanting to watch him seeing her bare skin and what any response might be. But unfortunately, she could still see him in the mirror that hung on the door. They both winced. She because it hurt and he because he must’ve known how badly it hurt for him to be peeling off some of the tape to look.
“Looks like Pirata knew what he was doing with that herbal junk. There’s no infection, and you seem to be healing nicely.” Only one of the cords had actually landed on her back, thank the Gods, but still…she knew she’d have a nice scar to explain to her family someday. She could feel herself blushing as Aristotles’ eyes met hers in the mirror. He let the back of the gown down slowly so that it wouldn’t hurt her more and turned away. To give him some privacy, she went into the bathroom, used the facilities, brushed her teeth, even though raising her arms hurt like Hades; and splashed water on her face. She didn’t know if the dress she had been wearing would be worth saving or just put into the give away pile. When she figured enough time had gone by, she came back into her bedroom to find his clothes left on the floor and the man in her bed…To run away screaming would’ve been the wisest course of action, but Ariana didn’t. She pulled up a footstool and tried to get comfortable in the chair. She felt his eyes on her, but ignored the rebel leader’s glance. She was still a little groggy from the shot she had been given, and weak from the pain and knew that she still needed more sleep to help her heal.
She gave up the attempt to find a way for her injury not to be pressed on in any way after a few minutes while sleeping sitting up and made her way back to her bed. She kept her eyes averted and slipped under the sheet. The bed moved as he shifted next to her, but she closed her eyes and prayed that he wouldn’t get any ideas…or maybe she was just worried that her own curiosity would get the best of her…
As his breath became slow and deep, Ariana knew there would be no way that she’d be able to fall asleep as quickly, if at all. On the other side of the bathroom was the room her mother had set up for him, so she made her escape. She closed the door on her bedroom side, but locked the one in the other room. Doors weren’t usually locked in the house, but she felt a bit safer that way. She flopped on the bed, and was lost to the Land of Hypnos.
She dreamt of Aristotles and what would be. She’d have a child with him. Pirata would be fine with Helen and the rebellion would be ended. Too many times, when she dreamed, it came to pass. She had given up on telling anyone. There were lots of people who thought she was a prophetess or worse, a WITCH! Having such a curse, or a talent, wasn’t for the weak, she knew after the first time she told a friend that her mother was going to have a baby and it wasn’t going to be the husband’s…and got beaten up for her trouble. It had started after she had become a woman and sometimes she wished BOTH things would go away. She wrote the dreams down just to keep a record of them. Some of the more vague ones didn’t happen, but if there was any clarity with people and places and times, things that could be experienced by her senses, those were the ones that would come true.
Why she hadn’t dreamed of Ari before he appeared in her home shocked her! How could something so earth shattering not have come to her beforehand? She couldn’t say anything to him. Just because the Oracle at Delphi was still being used didn’t mean that everyone had to be one or even listened to. She remembered the story of Cassandra who wouldn’t yield her virginity to Apollo and he gave her the gift of prophecy with the fine print that she would never be believed. Or would the rebel leader drag her all over the country, hoping he could use her in some way to make the battles go his way?
Ariana rolled over, and felt again the stinging of the whip and a flash of light as it descended and woke up screaming! The bathroom side door was broken in, and Pirata and Helen rushed in to find a naked Aristotles holding the hysterical woman in his arms. The thunder from outside and another bolt of lightning lit the room.
“She’s always been afraid when Zeus is hurling his thunderbolts.” her mother, switching on the light, explained as Pirata threw his friend a blanket to put around him. She felt safe in the rebel leader’s embrace, but moved away to use an offered handkerchief from her mother. Mortified wasn’t even close enough to use to describe her current situation…Screaming out loud, and crying like a baby, being found in a naked man’s arms, let alone one she had known for all of 3 days…
What an intolerable situation! Ariana was still trembling, with her heart beating a mile a minute, but at least she was fully clothed. That would’ve made it so much worse. There would’ve been no suitable explanation. It was bad enough that HE didn’t have anything on, but with HER bare too…forget it! Her father would’ve forced them to be married at gunpoint or just shot him on the spot…All of a sudden, she wanted her daddy back. He had been her rock of Gibraltar and she needed him right now.
She squared her shoulders, blew her nose and took a deep breath, centering herself and feeling the security of her home around her. The rebel leader put his hand on her shoulder. She turned to look at him. “I’m okay now, thanks.” He removed it and stood. He nodded to the two older people and left through the broken door.
“Would you like me to give you a sleeping potion?” She nodded and within 5 minutes her mother came back with a drink that tasted of mint and caused her dreams of quiet green realms, burbling streams and Satyrs playing their pipes.