Prompt: I once dreamed about . . .
Response: Azure: Part Five Continued
The sun beat down making Selim's clothing cling uncomfortably close to her body held by the sweat that trickled like a pattern of rivers over her body. As she brushed a damp errant hair behind her ear Selim wished for thte green cool of the woods. She would almost prefer to be working in a well - at least the mud that seeped from the forest's wounds was cold.
Selim scraped at an uncooperative piece of mortar with her fingernails, procrastinating the real work of replacing the crumbling bricks. She listened intently. The edge of Davenwood was only a few feet behind them - its recesses resentfully silent, as though the entire wood was watching them with contempt - but to their right the practive field could just be seen and the noise of the knights sparring drifted to them on a dry, hot wind. Selim looked up as she realized the voices were getting closer. She looked down again as she realized the knights - Sir William leading and an entorage of squires behind - were walking directly toward her.
Selim jumped. The knights were all smiling as they walked closer. Their gaze and smiles made her uncomfortable. She could not have heard them correctly - surely none of them knew her name.
"That is your name, is it not?" William was smiling as he asked. He perched himself on the wall next to where Selim was working and Selim noticed that he was in white again. As she noticed, she blushed. Selim had a sudden flash of memory - she had once dreamed about William. He had been all arrayed in white armor and riding a white horse.
"Lass, that is your name, is it not?"
Selim nodded, pushing the dream out of her mind, not trusting herself to speak. She did not want to sound fawning or foolish.
"We heard you were sick."
"Yes," Selim wondered if she should add "Sir" or "Sir William", but she did not. "But I am . . . better now."
"We are glad to hear it," William flashed a smile and leaned too close. The other men smiled too and leaned closer as well. Selim shifted uncomfortably. She glanced around, looking for her family - looking for Namen or even Mortimer or her father, but they were nowhere near.
Selim was not certain why, but she was profoundly uncomfortable. She was aware of her sweaty back and palms - her frazzled hair. She had no idea why the knights were talking to her - why they were showing any interest in her at all. She was still baffled as to how they even knew her name.
"Thank you," she said uncertainly.
William gave a half-laugh and Selim saw him run his tongue over his teeth behind closed lips. He reached out and touched Selim's cheek with his thumb. Though she thought she should have swooned, she flinched.
"Frightened, lass?" He seemed amused.
"I need to go back to work,"
"Let us help you," William offered. Selim was aware of the other men around her, like they were surrounding her.
"I will be fine,"
"Come now, let us help," William smiled.
"Yes, come now, lass," One of the squires mimicked, tugging at her long braid.
"Stop," Selim could not contain the panic in her voice, though she wondered where it came from.
"Let her alone."
He was dressed in the tunic and breeches of a knight, but Selim could have sworn she saw a flyaway feather in his dark hair. His emerald green eyes flashed to her and smiled for a moment before turning on Sir William.
"We just want to help," William glared at him.
"Yes, well, perhaps your time would be better spent practicing." Azure raised an eyebrow tauntingly.
"That was chance." William's jaw clenched.
Azure raised his hands. "Well I doubt that harassing a helpless girl will help you much with your swordsmanship."
The two men stared at each other. William pushed himself off the wall. "We were just leaving. Good luck, lass."
The group of men walked back toward the practice field, leaving Selim shaking.
She felt the brush of fingers on her shoulder and looked up into Azure's emerald eyes. "Are you all right, love?"
"Are you a knight at the Keep?"
"Today I am. I could not let them near you."
Selim looked up at him. Why did he care? she wondered. Who was he anyway? "Thank you."
"It was nothing." Azure leaned down and brushed Selim's cheek with his fingers, then his lips.
Selim was surprised how different the action was when it was preformed by Azure than by William.
"Would you like help with this?" Azure gestured at the wall.
"I will be all right."
"I am sure you will be. I will not be far - they will not bother you again."
Selim watched, unblinking, unbelieving, as Azure - smiling - became a golden bird. He soared into the air and circled around Selim once, his nearest piecing green eye passing right by Selim's gaze. The wingbeats of the hawk blew the air around her as she watched him sail away.