“You look pleased as punch.”
Iain smiled contemptuously. “Punch is rarely pleased.”
“And you rarely are either,” she smiled, “so what’s the occasion?”
Iain threw himself into the cushioned chair by the window, where the sunshine gilded his blond hair, Sadie noticed. Sadie looked away from him. He was disgracefully handsome especially with the rare, glittering smile.
“I saw a friend of ours today,” he said.
“Oh?” Sadie prompted, darting him a quick look.
“Gareth?” Sadie yelped. When last she had seen Gareth, he had been trundled, shoved into a cart, his hands and feet still in fetters. Gareth had gone quietly after the judges had spoken against him. The vote against him had been unanimous, and his sentence had been a lifetime of hard labor at an iron mine. Iain had told Sadie then that he didn’t think that Gareth’s life would be that long.
“How—how is he?”
Gareth and Iain had been inseparable as children. It surprised Sadie that Iain could speak now of Gareth lightly. His voice should have been gruff. He should have been angry, hurt. Sadie could not even think about Gareth, think about how he had looked that day with his clothes and already shaggy, black hair disheveled from a night and a day in the dungeons and his wrists red and raw from the iron cuffs without her heart shrinking in her chest.
But Iain smiled. “Better than I expected.”
That told Sadie little. If Gareth was alive then he was better than Iain—or Sadie—would have expected.
Sadie’s patience expired. She growled, “Iain—”
Iain laughed—actually laughed, throwing his head back.
“Alive,” Iain said. “And well. And strong. And free.”
“Free?” Sadie gasped, her hand flying to his throat. “He escaped? Where—where’s he?”
“Not escaped. Wronged.”
“The judges know?”
“The judges sent for him. He’s downstairs.”
“No,” said a voice, deeper than Sadie remembered but still with a familiar smile that made her heart burst, “I’m not.”
Sadie yelped, “Gareth!” She flew from the chair and across the room and into his arms before her second breath. He was laughing, and Iain was laughing with him, and Sadie was crying and beating Gareth’s chest with her fists, telling him to stop, but the laughter was bubbling up from her belly too, and she didn’t think she could stopper it, though she wanted to be angry at him for not coming sooner, and with Iain for not telling her right away, but she was undeniably happy, and soon she was laughing too, and she was holding onto Gareth to keep herself upright, and he held her, and he kept her on her feet.
I am a thief! And I am back! I stole this line from Gwen of Apprentice, Never Master. Tomorrow she will post the piece that she wrote using this line.