Desmund grabbed Eamonn’s arm, his fingers warm against Eamonn’s skin. There was no pleasure in the touch this time, though. “Do not go out there,” Desmund said.
“And why not?” Eamonn asked. “They are after my brother and me. You and your aunt should not be punished for harboring us. I will go. You can get out with Torin.”
“I do not want any harm to come to you!”
“Nor I you,” Eamonn said softly. “If they take me, I shall tell them that Torin is dead. That you and your great-aunt did not know who I truly was. You will be able to go free.”
“And what of you?” Desmund demanded. “What will they do to you?”
“It does not matter,” Eamonn said. “They will have me, and you can help my brother get away. Get away with him. That is what matters to me.”
“You matter to me!” Desmund shouted.
Eamonn tried to hush the other man, but when he tried to hold on to him, Desmund shoved him away. Sometimes he forgot just how strong Desmund was despite his wrecked leg.
“What does it matter if anyone knows? You will be lost to me no matter what you do. I do not want to live knowing I let you go to your death.”
“But, I should live with the same?” Eamonn asked, his voice cracking.
“I’ve survived before when I should have died. Go. I will keep them busy so you and Torin can get away. Do not worry for me. If I do not get away then it was my time. Maybe beyond it. Just stay free, and it will be worth it.”
“Des,” Eamonn murmured.
“Go,” Desmund insisted as voices rose into shouts outside again. “Go,” he said again even more forcefully this time. “Before they surround the house and you cannot.”
“Eamonn,” Torin called from the back of the cottage. “We must go.”
He looked between them, from his brother to the man he’d just thought he could be falling for, and chose. They were outside and to the barn when flames lit the night. “No,” he cried, lurching away from his brother. But, Torin pulled on his arm.
“We have to go,” his brother said. “We cannot let it be in vain.”
But, all Eamonn could do was stare at the burning cottage. Had Desmund gotten out before it went up? Or was he burning in there? Eamonn wasn’t sure he could bear the answer. Torin tugged on his arm again, and he realized his brother had already saddled both horses. “She told me to take both of them,” Torin said when Eamonn just gaped at him. “She knew they would not get away. Come on. We cannot do anything if we are dead.”
Eamonn clambered up into the saddle and they started away from the burning cottage. But, Eamonn looked back once more. “I am sorry,” he whispered. “So sorry.”
It seemed all he would bring to anyone was destruction.
More from my NaNoWriMo project for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt was to use “arm”, either along or as part of another word. I’ve got both in this one. 🙂 And I can’t answer Eamonn’s questions yet, either. Desmund may show back up, but it won’t be until at least book 2. He was a surprise character, but Eamonn had already told me he was bisexual(though he wouldn’t have had that word). And since we’re in 1850s Ireland, yeah, they were kind of doomed to begin with. But, yeah, I’m hoping Desmund didn’t actually die in that fire.