It was a small shack half hidden in a wall of rock and buried into the earth. Over-all it looked like a hobbit house. This is where the two refugees stayed the night. When one walked in they would immediately come into a small area with a cooking stove, and then into a closet sized room with a bed. Everything was surprisingly fresh - the quilt on the mattress was crisp and clean. The stove was polished. There was fresh wood stacked up in the corner.
This was because Robin had a tendency of staying there while he was out hunting. It was a good, safe area in the woods, a bit more than a mile away from the camp and manor.
Fiona and Robin had arrived at the building shortly before dawn. Gun shots had echoed through the woods for hours, with dogs barking viciously and men shouting far off. The two had run most of the way. How Robin was able to find the shack in pitch black, Fiona never knew. But they had made it.
Once inside, she collapsed onto the bed. She was desperate for oxygen - it wouldn't come into her lungs. The Winter air seemed to have scraped her throat raw. Fiona clenched at the quilt, inhaling painfully. Robin came over and scooped her up into his lap. Her asthma was flared worse than any other time.
"Breathe, honey. Breathe." He whispered. The boy wrapped the quilt around their bodies. "You're safe now. I promise."
Fiona let a few tears slide down her flushed cheek. "Why... Would he do this?"
Robin ran his fingers through her long fiery hair. "People tend to do crazy things when they're hurt so bad as he. Your uncle wasn't trying to be violent - he was drunk."
She shook her head gripping his jacket tightly, inhaling again. "He doesn't... He doesn't drink.... Like that..."
They sat there for another 30 minutes, bathing in warmth from the other's body. When Fiona could finally breathe somewhat decently, Robin got up and started a fire in the stove.
"This is all my fault." She mumbled.
"No, it's not. I should have stayed away from you - not because I wanted to, but because I knew this would happen." He stated simply, sitting back down at the end of the bed.
"I wish I hadn't come. It would have been better if I had stayed in that damned orphanage, instead of causing so much trouble."
Robin laughed at her usage of a swear word. "Girls shouldn't curse. But no. Fiona, no matter what happens, you will never regret you coming here. Don't tell me other wise, because I know you love me. I know you love your uncle and Edihoth. As for me... I would suffer a thousand tortures, just so I could have spent this time with you. I believe you feel the same." He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. They laced their fingers together, and with beams of the dawn's sunlight peaking into the single window, they fell asleep.
THUMP THUMP THUMP.
Robin jolted awake at the noise on the wooden door. He carefully lifted Fiona off of his lap and pulled out his hunting knife.
"Robin, it's me!"
"Dear god!" He unbolted the door and flung it open to find a beaten up Rory. Blood trickled from his mouth and there was a huge gash on his forehead. His shirt soaked in blood.
"How's it going little brother?"
"Get inside and let me look at you."
The eldest boy didn't argue. He limped inside and slipped down to the floor, completely exhausted. "After you two left, Glover and some... of his neighbors raided camp. I don't know how the fuck he got so many guys to help him, but they beat us pretty bad. Baba-ra, Simbi, and Alahruse are dead." He was referring to three of the Arab slave traders. "Tristan is wounded," one of the knights, "and pa is close to a mental break down. He sent me to look for you after we beat back Glover. Robin, we HAVE to leave. If we don't, we will die."
Fiona came from the other room, awoken by Rory's voice. He looked up at her and smiled, inclining his head. "Hullo there, miss."
She held back tears. "Let me tend his wounds, Robin."
He backed off and kindled the fire up. Fiona tore off his shirt and assessed the damage. "Warm up some water, Robin." He poured some of the contents of his canteen into the kettle.
"How bad is it?"
"He'll live. Its not too deep, but he needs stitches."
She ripped some of the hem off her dress to blot the blood away.
"I'm so sorry." She whispered.
Rory smiled gently, watching her face. "Don't worry about me. I'm a big lad. I can take care of myself. And besides, it's not your fault. I'm more sorry about this situation for YOU. To be betrayed by your brother like that. He's the one who told Glover, anyways. . . So, Will you help us?"
Fiona nodded. "I don't have the key though. It's back in my room."
He groaned. "We have to leave in two days."
Robin turned around inquiringly. "Why? It doesn't matter when we leave..."
His brother sighed. "There's something father didn't tell you."
There was a pause.
"What?" Robin asked in a hard tone.
Rory rolled his eyes and watched Fiona as she continued blotting his wound. "When people from the present come to the past, they can't die by age right? Only by mortal wounds... Well, there's another way."
Robin squatted down to look him in the face. "What are you talking about Rory?"
"Father didn't want you to worry." He chuckled. Fiona started to think he was slightly deranged from hitting his head. "But it turns out that once a time traveler reaches the day of their original birthdate, they will die. It really screws up the future. Father's birthday is in two days you know..."
Robin got up and started pacing. Rory ran his dirty fingers through Fiona's hair. "Get some water will you sweetheart?" His eyes fluttered around, drooping desperately for sleep.
She obliged, handing him the canteen. She sat down next to him against the wall. "So what do we do?"
They all exchanged looks, but ended up staring at Fiona.
Rory laughed again, nuzzling his face into her shoulder. "You have to sneak in and get it."
No. That wasn't possible. No doubt there would be people guarding the house and the whole yard for that matter. Fiona didn't want to face her uncle. What if he hurt her? He was willing last night to hurt Robin, so would it change now for her? What about Calvin? He would tattle if he caught her. Why did he care so much anyways?
"I don't know how. It's in my room, under the mattress. How can I get in there without getting caught?"
Rory laughed again, clearly delusional from loss of blood. They moved him to the bed where Robin brought over the heated water. Fiona started to cleanse the gash across his chest. He winced every time she touched him. Slowly, his breathing slowed down and he fell into unconsciousness.
"I should sow him up now. Do you have a needle?"
Robin produced one from the other room. Fiona ripped a single tread from her already tattered dress and stitched up the wound.
After that, they sat on the floor. They came up with the simplest but most effective means of getting in - Robin would distract the men. Fiona would retrieve the key. She didn't say it aloud, but there was a horrible feeling in her gut. A feeling that they would lose.
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