Lydia leaned her head against the cool bars of her cage, smiling. Even though she was locked up, and her cheek throbbed slightly, fo now, she was happy.
Her eyelids felt heavy, and she thought maybe she'd fall asleep to the story, too.
So the night was salvaged after all. Issac softly smiled, holding his younger sister close against his chest.
"There was once a girl, who lived in a far off place. Not a kingdom; no, she lived in the forest, independent from everyone. She grew her own food, made her own clothes, everything."Issac started in a gentle rhythmic voice.
"This girl better not be me."Alice sleepily mumured. Usually in Issac's stories, Alice was the main character. Issac shook his head, smiling.
"No, this girl isn't you. This girl's name was Rachel."He reassured, though he glanced up at Lydia with a wink.
Lydia smiled at the wink, then focused on Issac's lips as they moved, spinning the story as she tried to keep her eyes open. She soon failed, and they drifted shut as she listened.
It wasn't long before Issac was telling a whimsical story about this "Rachel" and all her adventures. About getting kidnapped, and escaping with the most handsome knight in the whole world. Issac liked describing that part the best. Both of the girls were asleep before long, and he held Alice in his arms protectively. If anything was steady in this world, it was the sleeping girl in his arms. And the longer he stared at Lydia asleep, he couldn't help but to think of her, too.
Issac had never been in love before. Occasionally he would flirt, and kisses among other things were exchanged, but all in good fun. But Lydia...he didn't know what it was, but it was new. Thrilling. And a little scary. She looked so younger when she was asleep, too, all crunched up in the cage.
Dawn seemed to come quickly, with Alice rustling against his arms. Her curly black hair was still in her messy braid, and her brown eyes wondered aimlessly above her.
"Good morning, Issac."She sleepily greeted, smiling as the sun peeked up. Issac smiled, brushing a few stay hair stands away from her face as he kissed her forehead.
"Sleep well?"He asked, tilting his head. She seemed like she did.
"Yup!"Alice replied happily with a smile. She then slowly sat up, turning her head."Is Lydia awake?"
"Yes." Lydia answered, opening her eyes. Issac was the first thing she saw, and her heart sped up in response.
She'd fallen asleep with her head against the bars, and her neck was stiff. Cracking it, she said, "Remind me never to sleep like that again."
Alice wrinkled her nose at the sound of her neck cracking. Sleeping in a cage didn't sound comfortable. Issac got up with Alice still in his arms, looking tired, but content.
"I'll remind you."He promised, before yawning."My shift is over, but I'll be back tonight, okay?"
Lydia nodded, suppresing a laugh af Alice's expression. She looked so cute. Finn used to make the same face, and then it would get worse when she laughed at him. "I'll be right here." She joked. As she spoke, she saw a half dozen strong men enter the square, pulling cartloads of beams. Her face hardened.
Issac followed her line of sight, his eyes becoming more like stone rather than liquid chocolate. Alice perked up, her eyes gazing.
"What's that sound?"She asked curiously as the began to leave. Issac sighed, his chest feeling tight. He didn't like leaving Lydia alone. If he could guard her all day...No, it would raise suspicion.
"Guards pulling beams on carts." Issac answered stiffly. Alice caught onto his attitude quickly, and stayed quiet. Soon enough, Issac was home, and was on his bed. It was harder to go to sleep, but it eventually found him.
The "peaceful" city didn't have a permanent gallows. Hangings were so rare, they didn't need one. But, every once in a while, they'd build one, so they kept all the beams safe somewhere.
One of the men grinned at Lydia as she watched them build it on her platform, next to her cage. She kept her face set in mild interest as she watched, braiding straw to keep busy.
"Making your own noose?" The same man sneered, eliciting a few laughs from the others.
She just kept braiding.
It wasn't easy, to stay home alone all day while your older brother slept. Alice was out of her mind bored. It wasn't like she could go to school; everyone thought she was too stupid to learn anything. She could make her way to the bakery, easily enough, though Alice didn't really want to spend her time with her father who only thought she got in the way. It would of been easier if Issac was away, teaching her how to count or telling her stories. But all Issac did was sleep, though Alice couldn't blame him. He needed his rest.
What she really wanted to do was go to Lydia. She seemed nice, and didn't treat Alice like a dimwit. The little girl sighed, tracing random swirls in a patch of dirt by her back door. Life would be so muh easier if she could see, wouldn't it?
Lydia finished off her braid, getting an idea. She divided the length into thirds, then picked at the straw, breaking it so it was three shorter pieces, and tied a knot at each end so it wouldn't unravel. Then she tied each piece to the top of the cage, starting a sort of curtain. The three pieces filled the gap between two bars.
Eventually, she'd be able to block the guards' veiw of her. At least, until they pulled it down. And it gave her some decoration. Someting different for once, a change in scenery.
Unfortunately, she was running out of straw. About a half hour later, a girl of about ten came with her daily meal: a hunk of bread, some limp cabbage, and a jug of water. She asked her for some more straw, and the girl silently complied.
The day dragged one endlessly for the little girl. She knew when to eat, and how to get food in the cupboards.(I'm kind of imagining a Sleepy Beauty esque house, of that's okay :) ) Actually, Alice thought she was pretty independent. She could go fetch water by a path she had memorized, and bring it back without spilling too much. She owed Issac for a lot of her independence, though. He was the only one who had enough patience and knew how to explain things to her right. Maybe that's why Alice loved him the most. Between braiding string, and listening to Issac's steady breathes, it finally became sundown. Alice could feel the light on her face angled, and her father came home smelling of bread and smoke.
"Ah. Did you have a fun time with Issac?"He asked her, chuckling as he brought her in his arms. Alice smiled slightly. She loved her father, but it a distant sort of way. He would never be able to treat her the way Issac did.
"Yes, Father. I would like to go again, tonight." She replied, smiling a little wider. Alice felt her father shift, than shrug. What did it matter, anyways? Issac understood the girl better, and probably took care of her better, too.
Issac then began to slowly awake. He had fitful dreams of seeing Lydia die, all in different ways. He listened to Alice and his father's conversation. Of coarse she wanted to come with him again. What did Issac expect? Besides him, Lydia was the only one who didn't treat Alice as if she was incompetent.
So, that's what happened. Issac came back at sundown, Alice in his arms. Hopefully Lydia wouldn't mind. They could always talk in private when she was asleep.
"Lydia!"Alice greeted happily as Issac set her down. She reached out, grabbing the bars as her brown eyes searched. It was amazing how attached she was, already. Issac rolled his eyes as he began to light some candles.
The men finished the gallows and left around noon, leaving Lydia to braid and ignore jeers the townspeople threw at her. By sundown, she'd finished eight braids, and was working on her ninth when Issac and Alice arrived. She grinned at the little girl's enthusiasm.
"Hullo, Alice. Did anything interesting happen without me?" Her eyes went up to Issac as she spoke.
Issac saw the gallows, and his brown eyes tightened at the sight of them.He couldn't stand thinking about Lydia's fate; not right now. He'd really have to talk to her once Alice was asleep...
"Nothing happened."Alice sighed glumly, her fingers brushing against a braided rope. Her face than lit up with curiosity."What's this? Is this hay?" She asked, and Issac went over to sit by them both.
"You do have a lot of time on your hands."He pointed out, though teasingly. If he was a prisoner, he would, too. What Issac would give to get her out of that cage...Wasn't is barbaric?
"Don't worry, I have a lot of time on my hands, too."Alice reassured, sitting down carefully as he fingers ran over the intricate braiding."Wow."
"I need something to do besides watch people." Lydia answered with a shrug. "Nothing really happened here, either. Just a lot of hay braiding."
"What do you do with your time?" She asked Alice, curious.
"Nothing."Alice snorted, and Issac slightly frowned. Before he had a full time job, he used to spend his days teaching Alice how to count or taking her on various errands around the kingdom. It wasn't like she had school; "too stupid". No, no one knew how to teach her right! She couldn't see! Issac wanted to yell."Well, I mean, sometimes I go help my Father bake, but he says I'm more in the way than help."Alice added as an afterthought, shrugging.
"Or we go visit some farm animals."Issac hinted, tugging her braid affectionately. It earned a small giggle from Alice, who liked the memories of milking a cow, or the sound of chickens during feeding time.
"But that's not everyday."Alice corrected, her fingers still running over the hay braids."These are really good, Lydia. I wish I could do this."
"I could teach you." Lydia suggested. "But it would be easier with yarn. Have you ever knitted?" There were a lot of things a person could do without sight, and without getting in the way.
If possible, Alice's face lighted up even more than discovering the braids in the first place. The only other person that had said the words "I could teach you" was Issac. To say the least, it was very exciting.
"Oh, would you?" Alice asked in awe, smiling ear to ear."Did you hear that Issac? She said she would teach me!" Issac chuckled slightly. He didn't know it was possible to for someone other than him to make her so happy. His brown eyes stared at Lydia for a moment, the oddest expression mixed with admiration and...and something else.
Lydia laughed, but not mockingly. the look on Alice's face made her want to teach her everything she knew. "Bring some yarn or string next time, and I'll show you. I can also play a flute, and I could teach you that if I had one."
The look on Alice's face was priceless. It seemed very pleased, and she fell back into Issac's lap. It wouldn't take much more longer for her to get sleepy, though her eyes were still wide open.
"That would be lovely. Thank you, Lydia.'Alice replied, a smile still on her face. Flute! She could hardly believe her ears!
"I like the curtain."Issac then commented."Very nice decor, for a wooden cage, that is."