"I don't plot," she said for what seemed like the hundredth time. "But it doesn't mean I don't know where I'm going, even if it takes me a couple of chapters to discover specifics."
So today I am going to play a little game. I'm going to write a couple of final scenes I already know. No character names included. It may be spoiler-ish but who knows? These are not final. They're rough drafts. Things could change.
The tent walls snapped with rapid, sharp cracks in the blustering wind, a wind which brought the stench of the battlefield to the encampment. Spilled blood exposed to a hot, bright sun. Liquid feces from the slit abdomens of the slain and the sharp, acid smell of bile thrown up by both the hardy and the more sensitive. He knew others stood behind him at the tent's entrance. He could hear their boots upon the gravel and see the splotches and gibbets of blood on their cloaks in his peripheral vision.
His eyes focused on the tent opening in front of him. With a curt nod to the young guard standing there the flap was drawn back and he stepped into the hot dimness.
She sat, back on her ankles, in the middle of the tent with only a worn, dirty hide between the sharp gravel of the floor and her legs. Hands bound behind her, still she raised her chin and glared at him. Lady's Mercy, she was still beautiful, even with the smudges on her pearly skin and her ice blond braid streaming down her back. He almost gave the command to unbind her hands to the two guards flanking her. No. This had passed beyond all courtesy.
"It is done.Your army is in arrears. Your incestuous brother lies hacked and dead on the field. His capital is overrun and my troops stand on the battlements. This is over."
"And me? What glorious plans do you have for me? A walled tower somewhere in the mountains or maybe the desert? A place to rot out my days while you set up your bastard to sit on your throne."
He barked a short laugh as dry and humorless as the desert wind outside. "Oh, no. Banishment or imprisonment, whether benign or strict, would not begin to be enough for what you have done. You have bypassed all claims to mercy with your cruelty and treason."
She paled at his words but still took a final jab. "Your father would disagree. He would still find a use for me."
"I am not my father. I have no use for you at all." He stretched out his right arm, palm open. "Oswald, your sword. I will not sully the sword of my forefathers with this. She does not deserve the honor."
A heavy pommel smacked into his hand as her eyes grew large. The guards stepped back to the canvas walls.
"You don't have. . ."
He swung too fast for her words to complete, the sword whistling in the air. Wide-eyed and lips parted with momentary astonishment, her head wavered on her shoulders for a few seconds before both head and torso tumbled to the floor and blood pumped out onto the hide and the underlying gravel.
"No use for you at all," he whispered to the corpse before turning to the silent witnesses behind him.
"Let us see to the dead, both ours and theirs. Except for her. I want no grave for her. Lay her out on the sands for the jackals and the desert kites. When they are done with her, scatter her bones where none will ever be found. If she is to find peace and mercy it will need be the Lady's, not mine."
The room was dark. Only a light from the hospital parking lot shone through the uncovered window. Wrapped in a blanket one of the nurses had given her, she sat in a tall chair beside the bed watching him sleep. A new white bandage covered his right temple. Only a graze, the doctor assured her. Scalp wounds always bled like a fountain. He was just concussed. Nothing to worry about. But still she watched him. he stirred.
"Sweetheart?" His voice was strange and his eyes were dull. But he was awake and that was all that mattered to her. She was out of the chair in a flash, losing one shoe in her hurry.
"I'm here, love," she said breathlessly but softly as she traced the side of his face with two fingertips. "I'm here."
He grabbed her hands then urgently pulled her closer. His hands palpated her arms and shoulders as they made their way up to her neck and face.
“Yes, you’re here,” he said at last, his fingers tracing her face. She felt the tears on her face. So did he. “Come here—with me. I need you next to me.”
She kicked off her remaining shoe, fit herself along his right side, and snuggled up under his arm.
“The night nurse is going to have a fit,” She remarked as she settled down.
“I don’t give a damn,” he said, nuzzling her hair and breathing in deep.
“Actually neither do I,” she responded, stroking his chest with one hand.
“It’s over then. What happened? I just remember turning, a flash of light then essentially nothing.”
“Yes, it’s over. But let’s not talk about that right now. In the daylight. Please?”
“Alright,” he said. “What time is it anyway?”
“Probably about two in the morning,” she replied and gazed out the window.
“Hey, it’s our wedding day.”
“Yes, I guess it is,” She sighed, wondering for a moment. “Then I suppose I can give you your wedding present then.”
“Wedding present?” She could hear the puzzlement in his voice.
“Love, I’m pregnant.” The words were finally out. “You’re going to be a father.”
His breathing beneath her cheek did not increase.
“I know,” he whispered.
She raised her head to look at his face in the dim light. “How? When?”
“Your appointment calendar at the apartment. Dr. Sternberg at 2 p.m. on Thursday. That’s when I put everything together.” His voice rose a little but remained soft.
“How. . .” She felt her voice falter. “Do you like your present?”
“Oh, silly woman, I’m holding the best present. That there are two of you is a bonus I didn’t expect.” He reached over with his free hand and stroked her cheek with his knuckles.
“Then you’re happy?”
“Terrifyingly so. I suppose this means we can’t put off the wedding so you can have a proper one. I’ve always felt like a louse on that.”
She almost giggled. “No, we can’t but I think we’re going to have to do it this Saturday. The doctor says you will be out of the hospital by then.” She paused. “Aunt Edith and Uncle Robert can’t stay longer than that. And your mother told your Dad they weren’t leaving any time soon.”
“Mom and Dad are here, too? When? Oh, shit. . .” He groaned.
“A true family wedding and Thanksgiving, too.” She put her head back down on his shoulder.
“Yeah, I guess there is that,” he sighed and kissed her forehead.
She opened her eyes and looked out the window. “Darling. . .look. Outside. . .it’s snowing.”