I'm working on some plot-forwarding Lamis fiction this morning, and I got stuck just a paragraph in. Then I realized that I was listening to the Temptations. It's pretty much impossible to stay inside her fucked-up head when "My Girl" is on the radio. I've switched to something much darker and it seems to be helping.
A few days ago I wondered how exactly Lamis got tangled up with a guy like Haydren. This story was the result, and I liked how it helped to flesh out both characters. Lamis was an odd one long before her undeath threw what remained of her balance out of whack, and Haydren, for all his psychotic tendencies, can come off as a very charming fellow. I might even like him if he wasn't trying to hunt down one of my favorite characters and do terrible things to her.
She walked past the Farstrider compound every morning at exactly 7:34. You could set your watch by it. A sober little thing, she wore the same plain, spotlessly white shift and carried the same linen shoulderbag every single day, a bundle of books tucked neatly under one arm. She ignored catcalls, although some of the more suggestive ones would bring a blush to her cheeks and she'd walk just a little bit faster on her way past the archery range. Unlikely, perhaps, that such a reserved soul would catch his eye, but her rigid schedule amused him, and he began to choose good vantage points along her path to observe the blonde woman when she came by.
After a while he caught himself waiting for her, planning his mornings around those few minutes. He took breakfast alone to be sure he wasn't late; he went to the range early and practiced tirelessly, if distractedly, while he waited. It was a long time before he really began to understand what drew him to her--before he would even admit that she had any effect on him whatsoever. Sure, he got a kick out of her unfailing punctuality, her always sameness, but that was certainly not a reason for him to admire her. It dawned on him one evening as he waited for sleep, so often long in coming, that it was the delicacy of her features and her intensity of expression that pulled him to her. She reminded him of someone he knew. Someone special. It was only a matter of time, then, before he approached her, stepping into her path at precisely 7:35 with a short, stiff bow and a charming smile.
"Good morning," he said.
She stopped short and looked over her shoulder, then back at the curly-haired Farstrider. "Hello?"
High and sweet, her voice belied her age. His grin widened. "I'm Haydren."
Haydren offered a large, warm hand, and she took it hesitantly. He closed it around her fingers. They were scalded pink, and the trace of roughness on the pads of her palm and the tips of her fingers betrayed a working woman. "I've noticed you coming through. Where are you off to, pretty lady?" Her ears reddened.
"Not primary school, though."
She humored the obvious question and shook her blonde head, ponytail wagging behind her. "First aid, mostly. Triage. Sometimes I assist with surgeries."
"A nurse, then." He looked both immensely pleased and endlessly amused, the spark of humor in his eyes encouraging and intimidating at the same time.
"Yes." She grinned in spite of herself, proud of her studies and compelled to reflect some of his gaiety. He was unprepared; he had never seen her smile in all the months he'd been watching her, and it wrought a breathtaking change in her pale, serious face. She was actually rather lovely, showing a row of good, even teeth and a soft crease under her eyes. A fleeting urge to kiss her was quickly repressed. Instead, he put his hand over his heart and swooned dramatically while she flushed and shot a furtive glance toward the range and its lazy audience of smirking bowyers.
"Radiant creature, I must have more of your company. Will you let me buy you a drink? Or perhaps breakfast. A trip to the stars? Anything, just name it and it's yours."
"I can't. I'm going to be late."
His face fell comically, and he clutched her hand to his chest this time, entreating her to feel the broken pieces of his heart. "Please, dear lady, don't leave me this way. After class, are you spoken for? Say no, or you'll tromp what remains of my shredded heart."
"I'm not busy."
A triumphant grin threatened to split his handsome face, and again Lamis found it impossible not to smile back, in spite of the fact that he was making her late. He put his other hand over hers, enveloping it, effectively caging her small fingers. "When shall I meet you?"
"Class is over at 3 o'clock on the dot. I'll be at the Walk of Elders at five after, if you like."
"Oh, I like; never has a truer word been spoken, Lady Lamis."
"Now please excuse me, I have to go." She pulled her hand out of his and walked around the corner at a brisk pace just shy of a run. He watched her until she was out of sight, then chuckled and wandered back to his post.
"Getting desperate, are we?"
"You could have picked one with tits. Or money."
"I heard she's a third cousin of someone who actually matters."
"Ooo, an almost-somebody."
"Shut up, Selron."
"He'll get sick of her in a month."
"Ha! No doubt. She'll be wishing she'd taken Murder Row instead."
Haydren notched an arrow, ignoring the smug commentary of his companions and beaming inwardly. He had a good feeling about this. She was the promise of sunshine, and he was tired of living under a cloud.