Friends and Survivors
The sunlight was fading as Adham’s eyes flickered open. It took a moment for things to come into focus. To his left sat Maester Jonys, dozing lightly as he sat erect in his chair. To his right sat Aaron reading quietly. The young man smiled warmly at him after noticing he was awake.
Putting down the book, Aaron removed the cloth from his forehead, wet it in a nearby bowl and replaced it after wiping the sweat from his face and brow. Its coolness was a gift from the Seven for such as simple thing. “You’re awake. Can you drink some water?”
Adham nodded and Aaron brought a glass to his lips, supporting his head. He drank little, but enough to satisfy Maester Jonys who was now alert and checking him over. The aged healer seemed satisfied with his progress so far.
“Why are … you being so kind to me … after…?” Adham croaked.
Aaron smiled. “We’ve gone over that Adham. What you did was imprudent, but we’ve yet to establish if you were wrong. I might have done the same in your place.”
“Not an answer.” whispered Adham. He was learning.
Aaron took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure quite how he felt right now, but there was certainly a good measure of inexplicable guilt. “You’ve been hurt in my name and you’ve done nothing to deserve it. I knew this was a possibility but I was unable to prevent it. Perhaps if I had done something more or acted sooner-"
With difficulty, Adham lifted his hand to place it on Aaron’s arm. “You didn’t poison me.”
Aaron smiled uncomfortably. “There will be those who say I did. They will say I poisoned you and then had you saved to win you over.”
Adham looked into the young man’s eyes, blue meeting green. “Must be terrible.”
“What?” replied Aaron looking confused.
“Seeing such treachery all around you.” Adham coughed for several moments. “You didn’t poison me. You wouldn’t need to poison anyone to win them over.” Adham’s speech was becoming labored.“He must rest My Lord” interjected Jonys.
Aaron nodded. “Do you know who poisoned you?”
Adham shook his head in reply. “Do you?”
“I will find out. I promise you that. You get some rest. I’ll be nearby at the archery range. If you need me for anything, call for me.”
Adham nodded and gave Aaron a haggard smile. “Practicing for tournament?”
“Yes, practicing.” replied Aaron. A quick glance from the Maester meant at least he had picked up from Aaron’s tone that his practicing had nothing to do with the tournament.
Adham closed his eyes again and Aaron rose to leave. Turning he saw Lidda, or Iris, or whatever her name was, standing in the doorway. She was dressed as a servant. How long she’d been standing there he didn’t know. As she stepped out of his way, Aaron passed her without a glance.