Only a fool could have missed the fact that William Wallace was plagued by nightmares, and Stephen of Ireland was not a fool, as he would insist at great length in later years. Crazy and sometimes suicidally brave, among many other things, but not a fool. Hamish tended to protectiveness, though, and had taken up the position of guard over Wallace's sleep, glaring at anyone else who approached.
That said, even Hamish couldn't be at the camp all the time, if only because Wallace himself sent him elsewhere, on some errand, and Stephen could wait. So he waited, and he watched, and finally he got his chance.
He wasn't disappointed. The man was not exactly quiet in his sleeping distress, tossing and turning and finally crying out a name.
When he woke, Stephen was sitting exactly where he had been for the last hour or so - namely, cross-legged about three feet away, watching him, his face showing concern mixed with curiosity. If the man's dreams were that violent... well.
"So who's Murron?" the Irishman asked without preamble, only partly because he honestly didn't know.
Wallace blinked at him dazedly and didn't answer at first, seeming not to be fully aware he was there. Finally, "A woman I loved. The woman I loved."
Stephen waited for more and when it didn't come, prompted the other man with a wave of his hands. "And? What happened to her?"
That got him an incredulous stare, as Wallace came fully awake. "You don't know? And how many weeks have you been in this band?"
The Irishman just shrugged expansively. "Men don't talk about what they already know unless it's to tell someone who doesn't, and the Almighty told me not to ask anyone but you."
"Did he now?" was the flat response, but in the blue eyes was amusement belying the tone. "Well, then. I'd better tell you, hadn't I? Wouldn't want the Almighty to smite me down. Or you", he added as a wry afterthought.
"That you wouldn't," Stephen agreed solemnly, and settled to listen as Wallace began the tale.
His face stayed expressionless, calm and neutral, through most of it, until Wallace reached the well in Lanark, and Murron's murder. The picture being painted was all too clear... and all too familiar. His mouth twisted as if he felt sick and only then did he interrupt. "I'll kill any Englishman on land not his own, but if any of them deserves killing more than most..."
Wallace cut him off. "That was my pleasure. Carried out the day she died."
"Just as it should be", Stephen approved, raising his empty hand in a "toast". "But still you dream of her."
Some men would have looked away at that. Not William Wallace - he met Stephen's eyes as levelly as he ever had, and his own eyes were so very tired and pained. He sighed. "Aye, I do. But there's work still to be done."
Stephen thought he saw her himself, a few nights later - a slender white shape, moving through the forest at twilight. But the dusk light is hard to see by, and the Irish are notorious for vivid imaginations, especially after a few drinks.
It was probably just a deer.
Time moved on, as time will, and events began to gather a momentum of their own. Ancient protocols were broken, battles were fought - and won - and Englishmen were killed in enough numbers to sate even Stephen of Ireland, if only because the English army in Scotland had been entirely destroyed and there was no blood left to shed. Victory was theirs. But it wasn't enough - the next step was to march on England itself. They took York, and they might have taken London, but the expected reinforcements never came. Without those, they had no choice but to march back to Scotland, or see the army waste away to disease, to accident, to desertion. So home they went, to see out the winter and wait for the vengeance that would surely come.
Inevitably it did, at Falkirk, where the Irish took the field... against the Scots. Stephen could have died from the shame of it - and probably would have, if he'd been fighting alone. Mornay abandoned them, as any fool could have predicted, cowardly venal traitor that he was, and the crossbows fired again and again and again, and Scotsmen died. They were cut to pieces, but still they kept on until defeat was undeniable. That didn't happen until the one thing that ripped the heart right out of William Wallace - the betrayal of Robert the Bruce. Stephen had to haul him from the field on a stolen horse, giving up his own choice to die for his countrymen's shame, when it was clear his leader wasn't going to be walking anywhere.
The next day he was gone.
Hamish left soon after, back to his farm. And Stephen? Stephen had nowhere else to go, save back to Ireland and his death, and he had no desire to die even now. He wandered the empty places of Scotland, aimless and rootless for a while... and then, one night, he dreamed.
He'd never met Murron in life, and perhaps it was as much imagination as anything when she came to him, but the message she brought was clear and compelling, images around them as she spoke to him. A flash of her grave, the smell of the soil sharp... a thistle, shining bright against the green... and a battlefield.
"He's returned. Find him, for he'll have need of you now."
"He'd have more need of you. But I suppose I'll just have to do what I can."
Wallace's homecoming was... not something anyone could have easily missed, and Mornay the traitor did not survive it. Word spread fast, but Stephen was already on the march to Hamish's farm when he heard of Mornay's death, and he knew. The loyal captains were being called on, and it was time for the fight to begin again.
In the end, of course, the best they could do for William Wallace was watch. Watch his torture, trying to catch his eye all the while as if it would help to take some of his pain on them, and watch his death. Neither of them looked away for a moment, even to the final fall of the axe.
And if either of them saw even a glimpse of Murron in the crowd... well, she wasn't there for them. They turned away and let her be.
They lived, Hamish Campbell and Stephen of Ireland, for many years to come. They lived, and they remembered, and they told his story and Murron MacClannough's to all who'd listen (though most folk gave more credit to Hamish's telling than Stephen's, to the one's amusement and the other's dismay).
And not one bit of it did they ever forget.