Kyr opened his eyes to the grey light of dawn, muted and shifting in faint patterns on the ceiling. Outside the wind gusted and even the air felt different, pressing down on him like a heavy blanket. Beside him Solan still slept, stretched out on his stomach with one arm tucked under the pillow, his breathing deep and even. Kyr traced down the line of his spine and kissed the back of his neck before pulling himself out of bed and padding in socked feet to the window. He passed Torin’s empty bed on the way and scowled at the sight of it, remembering Torin’s expression when Kyr had confronted him the night before, after Solan had told him Torin was sleeping in Lokan’s room.
“Where I sleep is none of your business, Kyr,” Torin had said, raising an eyebrow. “Sometimes I sleep in the armchair in Lokan’s room, yeah. Sometimes I sleep in the library or the sitting room, sometimes I sleep in bed, and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. Shouldn’t you just be happy to get some alone time with Solan?”
Kyr had heard the frustration bleeding through his own voice but he had been unable to stop it. “Why would you even want to spend so much time with Lokan? It’s fucking weird.”
“Because he can actually hold a conversation without swearing every other word?” Torin had smiled, his obvious annoyance undercut with an affection Kyr still wasn’t entirely sure had been for him. “Look, you don’t have to like him, but at least show some respect to his mother in her house, and stop trying to tell me how to spend my time or who I should spend it with. Haven’t you had enough fighting already?”
“I just...” Kyr had bit back his anger at the warning in Torin’s pale tawny eyes. “Yessir. Just... what do you even talk about?”
Torin had grinned, washing away the irritation. “You.”
Standing in the uncertain daylight of the next morning, Kyr rolled his eyes just as he had in response the night before and pushed the curtain aside to look out at the new day. His eyes widened at the sight of the shifting white wall outside; a steady, heavy fall of thick snow that blocked the entire valley from view. The wind gusted, howling around the corner of the house, and for a moment the snow fell sideways, but it only revealed more snow beyond.
“Hey.” Solan slid both arms around Kyr’s waist, resting his chin on Kyr’s shoulder. “That is a lot of snow.”
“Way too fucking much snow.” Kyr squinted, telling himself he didn’t actually see shapes in the ceaseless movement of the falling snow. In his ear the cuff felt cold despite the warmth of his body, stinging against his skin.
“It’s not like we were going anywhere anyway.” Solan kissed his neck.
“Not now, but it’ll take that much longer for the pass to clear.” Kyr glared out at the snow, as though that would make it stop.
“I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.” Solan pulled away. “It’s safe here.”
“For you too, even though you’ve been a complete ass since you got here. Even Torin seems happier right now, and last I checked, he’s just as human as you are.”
“Lokan’s bewitched him somehow,” Kyr muttered.
“Oh, bullshit. Just like I bewitched you? You think Lokan’s got nothing better to do than bewitch a human sergeant, especially one who’s already committed treason by aiding Fae to escape? Get over yourself, Kyr.” Solan thumped down on the bed hard enough to bring a creaky protest from the mattress. “At least you’re not getting ignored by someone you thought actually cared about you.”
Kyr turned away from the window, the angry feeling in his chest fading at the bright thread of hurt woven through Solan’s voice. “Lokan?”
“Yeah. He said he doesn’t regret coming to save me, but he doesn’t really seem to want to be around me anymore either.” Solan shrugged. “Either he’s with Ceridwen or he’s with...”
Solan flashed a brief smile, though it didn’t ease the miserable look in his eyes. “Maybe it’s the other way round. Torin’s bewitched him.”
“Yeah right. You’re better off without him anyway.” Kyr dropped down on the bed and put an arm around Solan’s shoulders, leaning in to kiss his cheek.
“Doesn’t make it feel any better.” Solan sighed and leaned against Kyr, only to start laughing when Kyr’s stomach gave an audible growl. “Hungry?”
“Yeah, I think that’s our cue to go hunt down some breakfast.” Kyr got up and pulled Solan to his feet, lacing their fingers together on the walk downstairs to the kitchen.
After breakfast he left Solan to do the dishes with Ceridwen and caught up to Torin in the small library, a little wary of Torin’s mood until Torin smiled at him and gave him a friendly punch in the arm as a greeting.
“Not playing nurse to the enemy commander today?” Kyr asked, slumping down in an armchair and watching Torin browse the bookshelves. The library was line floor to ceiling with books of all sizes and even had a ladder to let people reach the top shelves, something Kyr had never seen outside a movie.
“Don’t start with me, Damascus.” Torin pulled a thick book free and flipped through its pages. “I can still make you do push-ups until you puke.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Kyr looked around, trying to think of how to phrase what he wanted to say. “Solo... He’s kind of upset about how Lokan’s treating him. Now that you’re Lokan’s new pet.”
“Nobody is anybody’s pet, asshole. Lokan’s backing off for a good reason.”
“Which is what? Because he’s a fucking jerk?”
Torin shot him an exasperated look. “You, numbnuts. You’re not exactly the master of subtlety about how much you hate him. He’s backing off so you and Solan can work out some of your many, many issues together.”
“But it’s hurting Solo.” Kyr kicked at the chair’s bottom. “Well, why doesn’t he just fucking say that then?”
“Because the only one around here who doesn’t have communication issues is Ceridwen, and she’s smart enough not to get involved with any of this bullshit.”
“And you’re not?” Kyr grinned.
“Apparently not. But there’s your reason anyway. I think you three should all sit down and actually talk about the weird little three-way you have going, to be honest.”
“It’s not a three-way. Can you imagine actually sleeping with...” Kyr trailed off. “He did, didn’t he.”
“Kyr, I love you and I’ll lay down my life for you, but if you’re going to freak out over Solan’s sex life sometimes not involving you, I’m out of here.”
Kyr opened his mouth and then shut it again, feeling a bit like he’d just been punched. The fact that it made a certain kind of sense—and the fact that he and Solan hadn’t technically been together at the time—didn’t reduce the sting of it. “Huh,” he said finally. “Might’ve been nice if he’d, I dunno, mentioned it.”
“Communication issues, I told you. You should talk, it’s not like there’s anything else to do around here.” Torin smiled a bit. “If that ever actually happens though, I’ll put on an evening gown and sing opera.”
Kyr took his time looking Torin up and down, forcing a smile. “I’m almost tempted to go make peace just to see that.”
“I don’t think I have the chest for it.” Torin tucked a couple of books under his arm. “Go talk to Solan at least, tell him he’s been dumped but only because Lokan thinks he’ll be happier with you.” Torin tilted his head slightly, his eyebrows drawing down a little. “He is, isn’t he?”
“I think so,” Kyr said after a moment. “I want him to be happy.”
“There you go.” Torin gave his shoulder a squeeze with the hand not holding the books. “Not that I should be giving out romantic advice. I think the last person I kissed was you.”
Kyr’s smile became more natural. “That’s really sad, Tor.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t that great for me either.” Torin grinned at him and headed out into the hallway.
“You asked for it!” Kyr called after him, then went to find Solan, still laughing to himself.
He kept what Torin had said to himself, still trying to sort through his own feelings. He hesitated over whether Solan deserved to know—if it would ease the hurt—or if he should listen to the little voice that told him to keep it back and let the relationship between Solan and Lokan break completely. Outside the blizzard continued to dump snow on the house and the valley, blowing drifts against the walls, even well into the night. They all went to bed early, shortly after eating dinner and cleaning up, but when hours had passed without the slightest sign of sleepiness, Kyr pulled himself silently out of bed and left Solan fast asleep, wandering the halls and wishing he could go out for a run.
A pale golden glow outside one of the living room windows caught his attention as he passed and he cautiously approached it, keeping well to the side even in the darkness of the room. The blizzard still raged on but in a small circle a few feet from the window, the wind and snow seemed to hit an invisible barrier and curve away into the night. Roisin stood inside the calmness of the circle, facing a woman so old that Kyr wondered how she was still alive, let alone standing upright and straight. The old woman held a lamp in one hand—the source of the glow—and wore so many layers of brightly coloured clothing that she looked almost spherical. From the gestures she made with her empty hand and the expression on her face, she was lecturing Roisin, who only listened impassively.
Kyr stayed where he was for a few long minutes, wishing he could hear what they were saying. He watched the old woman’s mouth instead, trying to read her lips and picking out a few words: ‘pass’ and ‘snow’ and ‘war’. He was trying to puzzle out more when she looked up suddenly, her eyes a bright and startling blue in the darkly seamed map of her face. The cuff in Kyr’s ear burned suddenly cold and he ducked away from the window, hissing in pain and tugging at his ear.
When he looked up again the glow was gone and the blizzard roared past the window without obstruction. Still rubbing at his ear, though the pain had subsided almost as quickly as it had come, he hurried back up the stairs and nearly collided with Torin at the landing.
“Kyr!” Torin sounded out of breath, grabbing Kyr’s shoulders hard enough to hurt. “You need to find Ceridwen.”
“Isn’t she in bed? Why do I need to find her?” In the dimness he could just make out darker patches on Torin’s shirt, oddly wet-looking. “Tor, what’s wrong?”
“Lokan started coughing up blood and then he collapsed. Stop asking me stupid fucking questions and go find Ceridwen.”
The command in Torin’s voice made Kyr turn before he’d even registered that he was about to move. He hesitated a moment, looking back over his shoulder at Torin, then turned back and took the stairs as fast as he dared in the dark, yelling Ceridwen’s name.