Corthos and Merry Scene 2
“Corthos…” Merry’s fingers ran softly through his hair as she spoke, her voice delicate and warm. “You should rest. You look exhausted. What have you been doing?” She had noticed it first a few nights ago – a tension in his actions, in his words, that had never been there before. Judging by the bags under his eyes, Corthos had hardly slept since she had last seen him. She was smart enough to know that he had irritated the nobility again as Aldo, but that had never seemed to bother him or weigh on him before. She had noticed him acting strangely as of late – showing up disheveled, with fleckings of blood and mud and gods-know-what-else on him, hidden under his hair or stained into his doublet. In her line of business, she had seen plenty of rough-and-tumble types of customers – that was not Corthos. In fact, she almost doubted that he had it in him to fight – Tanassen or not. He seemed to move slowly now, with a burden and a pain that she had never seen him carry before. He stared out the window, seeming to look into a distance beyond the city itself.
He shook his head, muttering to himself. “I can’t. Not yet. There’s so much to be done, so much to be said…..Merry…” He paused, and for a long moment, she thought he was going to say something that he seemed to grapple with. It was unlike Corthos to be tongue-tied, but the words never came. Whatever he had wanted to say laid dead before it could escape his mouth, and he glanced downwards. When he spoke again, his tone was softer, revealing some of the exhaustion. “They’re paying attention now. The city is watching, they are listening, they are paying attention. It’s everything I wanted. Ever since Fleming was taken down, they have all waited on my next words. Even my enemies….especially my enemies.” Merry sat down on the bed, her eyes on his. “Well, you would have to know that your enemies would notice eventually. Maybe you should lie low for a while?”
Corthos managed a small chuckle. “I can’t do that. I could never be satisfied doing that. I just….there is so much more at stake now, Merry. So much more than you could know. My words…they are the greatest weapon I have, the best chance that I have.” Merry spoke quietly from her spot on the bed. “Corthos….you don’t need to write constantly, or push your agenda all the time. You write like you are afraid that you’ll run out of words any day, and I seriously doubt that will be your problem. Come here, lay down next to me. You’re here, in a safe place, with someone who expects nothing. That’s always been enough for you before. Why not tonight?”
Corthos stood hesitantly, then came back to the bed. He laid next to Merry, who rested her head on his chest. He closed his eyes and spoke softly. “I can’t stop writing. I can’t go silent, no matter who wants me to. It’s the only thing I know lately – it’s the only thing that gets results for me. I mean nothing to the Tanassen family, outside of Gwen. My votes carry little weight with the size of the family. My job means practically nil within the city. I have no family of my own, and despite what I may want, no apparent future in which I see that. But with that pen in hand, the people listen. They react. They build me to a different level. And then they all watch, waiting for my next command, my next work….I mean something. I have a legacy, I have a purpose. But when I stop writing, I have nothing.”
Merry stayed quiet, and she held Corthos close to her. She began to sing to him softly as his hand rubbed her back, and it didn’t take long before she felt his breath regulate and she could tell he had fallen asleep. She sat up some and turned to look back at him, an odd pang of sadness and longing running through her for a moment. She knew it couldn’t last, but for now, she felt a warmth and happiness that she felt so rarely anymore. And that was enough for her. She knew better than to expect more or to hope for it. For now, she felt more emotion than she had in a while, and she felt the peace that she had associated with his visits. His hand reached out to hers, fingers intertwining.
She laid back down into his arms, a ghost of a smile on her face. This would be enough. Even if it wasn’t much, it was more than most of the girls would ever get, and it would be enough.