You lost your mind in the sound

Rid of the monsters inside your head
Her head snapped around to face him. Her eyes widened.

"Please don't scream," Tristan implored, just as her mouth opened. "Please."

He pressed his hands over her lips just as the magic dragged them back into the dark. They seemed to roll backwards through the wall into the dark, wind rushing past their faces. And then they came to an abrupt halt. They were sitting side-by-side on a cobbled stone floor, his hand still firmly in place across her mouth. The room was illuminated by a single lantern hanging from an iron bracket mounted on the wall. It provided enough light to throw the spider webs and dust on the crate below it into sharp relief. He released her, his hands dropping to his sides as she scrambled to her feet.

Tristan stared up at her as her voice echoed around their little room. He'd almost forgotten what she sounded like. Almost. It all came rushing back, as if the months he'd been away had never happened. But they had, and they stood between them, a seemingly impassable gulf in the darkness.

At least she didn't seem inclined to scream again.

Footsteps echoed down to them from the floor above. The slats of the ceiling shook under the weight, showering them in dust and grime like dirty snow. Tristan sighed, tipping his head back. It had been a long (very long) few days. Slowly, he climbed to his feet and wiped the dirt from his hands . Mallos definitely did not dress for dusty rooms. His black ensemble looked like it had accompanied him into a fight with a particularly irate bag of icing sugar.

It was not how he'd imagined looking when he'd thought about their reunion. In his imagination he'd always had his own face for a start.

"Thea..." he began, fighting to keep his voice steady, "I'm not Mallos." Tristan paused, scanning her face. "Its...it's me. Its Tristan."

He attempted a smile, but it died on his lips. As his heart rate slowed and he became increasingly sure no one was likely to find them, other thoughts closed in on him. He'd assumed she'd been some kind of prisoner, or worse. Why else would she have stayed in the castle with Mordred after everything had happened? Why hadn't she come to find him in the forest like everyone else? She looked slimmer, more sombre, but far from neglected. And why had she been in his mother's rooms?

Tristan studied her with fresh eyes, a lump rising in his throat. Where had she been when the pirates had stormed the castle? Had they hurt her? Where had she been when his father had died? When he'd been forced to fight his way out? He bit down on his lip.

"Do you..." he managed, the words catching in his throat, "do you want me to go?"

Put all your faults to bed, you can be king again

Paul Johnston


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