The Eve of Battle

We’re outside of the city. Everything feels terribly still. We all know what’s coming next and I feel outside of myself.

I’m still barely speaking to my father. Not that he speaks much at all. I’ve been working with Elodie and the other healers to get the potions that we need in case people are hurt. General Martin doesn’t think that we’ll only be facing shadows this time.

Annalise’s silence is the most unnerving. She’s steely, and flinty, I don’t know what changed, but she’s not like she was.

“Marina?” Aaron walked in to my tent. I looked up at him. “She wants to see you.” I nodded and followed him. He looked almost somber. Or I suppose as close to it as he would ever get. “Are you alright?”

“Is she,” I swallowed, “is she better?” He shook his head. “Aaron,” I whispered. He took my hand and kissed it. “Don’t,” I cautioned.

“If I die tomorrow,” he said softly, “I want you to know that it was my great honor to have met you, and that it will be my greatest regret to not get to build that better world of ours.”

“You’re teasing me,” I said, “and I don’t like it.” He smiled.

“I can’t help myself,” he said. “I should find Athena.”

“You’ve made up then?” I asked. He smirked.

“Something about impending doom will do that,” he said. I entered Annalise’s tent. She was looking over maps and then glanced up at me.

“You summoned me?” I asked. She looked me in the eyes now. “You’re afraid?”

“Yes,” she managed to whisper. “Of course it doesn’t matter.” She swallowed. “Martin thinks you should be kept away from the city, I disagree. What do you think?”

“I’ve told you,” I whispered. “I’m not a fighter, and I’m not,” she nodded. “I’ll do as you say, of course. But I’d be more useful here, helping with the wounded.” She swallowed. “Is that all?”

“No,” she shook her head. “Are you and Tristan,” she sighed, “it’s silly, I feel ridiculous, with everything that’s about to happen, but if you two,” she swallowed.

“We aren’t,” I said. She looked at me. “He loves you, not me.” She nodded.

“The other night, when I found you, I thought,” she sighed, “and then you said you wanted to leave.”

“I should leave,” I said. “Brayton sent those shadows with Davis¬†for me,¬†Lisette. He won’t stop.”

“I’ll stop him,” she said.

“But maybe not in time,” I said. She looked at me. “You Saw me at his side.”

“And you Saw Dovetail in flames,” she said. “But look at it!”

“The battle hasn’t begun yet,” I argued. “I want to help you but I can’t, if he takes me, I can’t!” She swallowed. “Let me be useful, but let me stay behind.”

“Alright,” she said. “Stay behind, help the wounded, I understand.” I nodded. She hugged me then and it took me by surprise. “I love you,” she whispered, “and I don’t want to lose you.”

“We’re Chosen, Annalise,” I said softly. “You’re the Sword of The Goddess,” our foreheads were touching, “I don’t know what that means exactly, but I know it means we’re bound.”

“I suppose,” she said quietly. “You’ll be there at the end though?”

“I won’t leave,” I said. And I knew deep in my heart that I meant it, not just that I wouldn’t leave this battle, but that I wouldn’t leave her, not ever.